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No Agenda Episode 463 - Dead Hand of Bureaucracy

By Adam Curry. Posted Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 10:04 PM.

Dead Hand of Bureaucracy

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By Adam Curry. Posted Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 10:04 PM.

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By Adam Curry. Posted Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 10:04 PM.

Dead Hand of Bureaucracy

Executive Producers: Dame Molly Kincade, Sir Robert Rock, JD from SJ CA, Dame Kristina Lake, Baron Steven Pelsmaekers, Sir David Hoffman, Wilfred B Kesseler, Random Hillbilly

Associate Executive Producers: Anonymous, Sir Anthony Montgomery, Devin Smith, Chris McGraw, Ron Pepper, Sir Sean Connelly, Marcel Janota, Black Knight Ara Derderian, Dame Lauri Jutila, Job Seeker

463 Club Members: JD from SJ CA, Dame Kristina Lake, Baron Steven Pelsmaekers, Sir David Hoffman

Become a member of the 464 Club, support the show here

Knighthoods: Molly Kincade, Richard Harriman, "Humphrey of Yes Minster", Anthony Mongomery, Lauri Jutila, David Daniels, Edward Bradley

Art By: @NealCampbell

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irondouche.com

Maynard Meetup

Hi John & Adam,

I'll be in Melbourne on the 28th to present "How Not To Get A Radio Show With The ABC" to Australian Skeptics national conference.

While I'm in town I was going to put the call out for any listeners of No Agenda and any Skeptics to get together and have a drink and argue over HAARP etc.

The Penny Black in Brunswick from 6.30pm will be the venue.

I wish to stress this is unofficial, but I will have my microphone with me at all times, and I'll hopefully record a NAfomercial or two.

Also, if possible, could you send some Karma to Sir Gavin of Melbourne? He has had a personal loss recently and let him know we are all thinking of him.

ITM to my favourite enemies of disinformation,

Maynard

The No Agenda Show - YouTube

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Wed, 21 Nov 2012 15:44

Drone Nation

Authorities call Richmond Hill explosion a homicide case, seek details on white van | Indianapolis Star | indystar.com

Warrants issued, no arrests in Indianapolis explosion

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Source: Delicious/chaosmonger

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 04:22

Indianapolis investigators have opened a criminal homicide probe into the explosion that killed two people and damaged or destroyed dozens of homes earlier this month. (Nov. 20)

Investigators said Tuesday that no arrests have been made in connection with an Indianapolis house explosion that killed two people and destroyed at least five homes, but that authorities were still serving search warrants and questioning people.Prosecutor Terry Curry told The Indianapolis Star on Tuesday that search warrants had been executed and people were questioned, but he declined to discuss who was questioned or where the warrants had been served.

Curry spokeswoman Brienne Delaney told The Associated Press on Tuesday evening that no arrests had been made.''It's still a fluid situation,'' she said. It isn't clear how many people have been questioned.

The investigation into the Nov. 10 explosion is believed to be focusing on a house occupied by Monserrate Shirley and her boyfriend, Mark Leonard. The couple and Shirley's 12-year-old daughter were away at the time of the explosion, but the young couple next door died when their house was destroyed.

Indianapolis Homeland Security Director Gary Coons said in a statement released Tuesday night that investigators were still at work at the blast-damaged neighborhood on Indianapolis' south side.

''The investigation is still ongoing and we are still processing the scene. No arrests have been made at this time,'' his statement said.

Attorney Randall Cable said earlier Tuesday that Shirley and Leonard had been cooperating with investigators and were ''bewildered'' by Curry's announcement Monday that the investigation was considered a criminal homicide.

City arson investigators and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives concluded the blast was not an accident, Curry told the AP earlier Tuesday. The case is classified as a criminal homicide investigation because of the deaths of Jennifer and John Longworth.

Curry declined to discuss details of the investigation or the search warrants, which he said would remain sealed until '-- or if '-- any criminal charges are filed.

Officials have said they believe natural gas was involved in the explosion and that they are focusing on appliances as the cause. The explosion caused an estimated $4.4 million in damage.

Curry said investigators had considered homicide a possibility all along, but it wasn't until police and the ATF ruled out an accidental cause that it became a criminal probe.

He declined to say whether investigators had any suspects or if there was any physical evidence or possible motive that the blast had been deliberately set.

''In terms of any intent, I can't speak to that,'' Curry said.

Cable said in a statement that Shirley and Leonard have ''cooperated fully'' with investigators and that they want the cause ''of this horrific and saddening tragedy to be determined.''

Fire Capt. Rita Burris said Tuesday that about 15 heavily damaged homes are ''on hold,'' meaning that residents have limited access because of the investigation.

Once the on-scene work is complete, she said inspectors will have to determine if those homes are safe enough to enter or if they must be demolished.

''That's a two-fold, two-layer thing that these homeowners are going to have to deal with,'' Burris said.

Demolition ordered for 29 homes in deadly Indianapolis explosion | The Journal Gazette

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Thu, 22 Nov 2012 13:25

INDIANAPOLIS '' Demolitions have been ordered for more than two dozen homes in a blast-ravaged Indianapolis neighborhood where a house explosion that killed two people is being investigated as a homicide case, officials said Wednesday.

The 29 homes slated for razing amounts to nearly a quarter of the 125 houses in the subdivision where the Nov. 10 explosion destroyed five homes and damaged dozens more, leaving some on the brink of collapse. No arrests have been made in the blast, which investigators believe was intentionally set and caused by natural gas.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said search warrants are being executed and interviews are being conducted, though he declined to say who had been interviewed or what investigators have found. He and other authorities announced Monday that the case was now being treated as a criminal homicide investigation.

''As we learn information and learn the identities of individuals who might or might not have information, we're pursuing every lead along that line,'' Curry said Wednesday.

Indianapolis' code enforcement department said Wednesday that it had issued demolition orders for 29 heavily damaged homes in Richmond Hill, a subdivision on Indianapolis' south side. Four other homes, including two that were leveled in the blast, are being maintained for now as part of the crime scene.

Owners of 17 of the 29 homes under demolition orders have until Dec. 20 to consult with an engineer to determine whether their home can be saved, said Adam Collins, deputy director of the city's code enforcement department. He said some of the subdivision's homes are so badly damaged, they are in danger of eventual collapse.

''With all of these homes, we believe they should come down because they pose a safety risk,'' he said. ''We believe they're not repairable.''

The four houses at the crime scene include the home where investigators believe the explosion occurred and the house next door, where the couple killed in the blast '' John and Jennifer Longworth '' had lived.

The owners of the house believed to be the blast site weren't home at the time of the explosion.

City arson investigators, along with agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, have concluded that the late-night blast was not an accident.

Total damage has been estimated at $4.4 million, and federal authorities are offering a $10,000 reward for information in the case.

Investigators have focused on appliances in their search for a cause.

Curry said investigators are continuing to ''narrow down the precise mechanics of the explosion.''

''The belief at this time is that it was an intentional act, but other than that, I can't discuss how investigators might or might not think that occurred,'' Curry said.

Iron Dome

NBCNews.com video: Clinton, Netanhayu meet in Israel

Ben Wedeman-CNN Finds Possible 'Yellowcake' Uranium in Libya - NationalJournal.com

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Tue, 20 Nov 2012 22:42

CNN's Ben Wedeman said on Thursday that he had discovered what appeared to be processed uranium sitting in a Libyan warehouse filled with thousands of barrels apparently containing radioactive material.

He came across the warehouse while pursuing a story at a military base outside the town of Sabha. Wedeman tweeted photos of the warehouse, including some bags that he said appear to contain yellowcake, or processed uranium. Yellowcake is a rudimentary uranium oxide compound that can be refined for use in nuclear weaponry.

The International Atomic Energy Agency was aware that the site contained nuclear materials, Wedeman reported. He also found a handwritten note that said "350,000 tons declared."

Anti-Qaddafi forces took over the site in Sabha just yesterday. Wedeman's team found a garbage bag and rubber gloves in the warehouse that appeared to have been used recently and may be evidence of activity on the site.

Want to stay ahead of the curve? Sign up for National Journal's AM & PM Must Reads. News and analysis to ensure you don't miss a thing.

Ben Wedeman CNN - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Tue, 20 Nov 2012 22:41

Ben Wedeman is an American journalist. He is CNN senior correspondent in Cairo, Egypt who was based in Jerusalem. Before Jerusalem he lived in Egypt where he was CNN's Bureau Chief. Prior to that, he was CNN's Amman Bureau chief. He was originally hired by CNN as a local Jordanian employee. The job title was fixer/producer/sound technician; one of his duties was to help reporting staff get through checkpoints, since he is fluent in multiple dialects of Arabic and familiar with the culture(s).

[edit]BiographyWedeman was born in Washington, DC. His father is a retired diplomat. Ben spent most of his childhood outside of the United States, after having moved with his family to South Korea in 1968. Subsequently, he lived with his family in Bangkok, Thailand; Phnom Penh, Cambodia - during the Cambodian Civil War - then attended boarding schools in Beirut, Lebanon (in 1974-75, just as the civil war broke out); Tangier, Morocco; and Windsor, Connecticut (USA). He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor's degree in Oriental Languages and Linguistics and from the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies with a masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies. He is married with three children, and currently lives in Cairo.

In August 2011 he was in Sabah, Libya covering the 2011 civil war that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi. Pursuing a lead which led him to an abandoned warehouse, he discovered thousands of barrels containing bags of a yellow powder labeled to be radioactive. It was later confirmed by the IAEA that this powder was Yellowcake Uranium.[1]

In August 2012 he was in Aleppo, Syria covering a battle of the civil war.[2]

[edit]AwardsIn 2012, Ben's team won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Live Coverage of a Current News Story '' Long Form for the Breaking News Simulcast of Revolution in Egypt: President Mubarack Steps Down[4][edit]References^CNN Finds Possible 'Yellowcake' Uranium in Libya>> NationalJournal September 22, 2011^Syria - Life and Death in Aleppo CNN's Ben Wedeman Reports from inside Aleppo 8-13-12 >> Youtube^http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/may/11/international-media-awards^http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/category/cnn-worldwide/ben-wedeman/PersondataNameWedeman, BenAlternative namesShort descriptionAmerican journalistDate of birthPlace of birthDate of deathPlace of death

Spirited Exchange Marks Briefing on Israel

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Source: MRCTV - News & Politics

Tue, 20 Nov 2012 08:00

MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them -- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.

MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 325 South Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.

Copyright (C) 2012, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.

President Obama Gives Pakistan And Yemen Permission To Attack United States? | Mediaite

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Tue, 20 Nov 2012 04:46

video

Sunday morning in Thailand, President Barack Obama exchanged the usual pleasantries and gave the usual declarations to the press one would expect when a president begins a three-day tour of Southeast Asia. When asked about the ongoing (and growing) Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the president gave a full-throated defense of Israel's decision to launch military strikes on Gaza in return for Palestinian rocket attacks.

But Reason's Mike Riggsnoticed something particularly hilarious/sad about the president's remarks: Obama accidentally satirized himself and American foreign policy with a few unwittingly ironic lines (emphasis mine):

Let's understand what the precipitating event here that's causing the current crisis and that was an ever-escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli territory but in areas that are populated, and there's no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.

'...So we are fully supportive of Israel's right to defend itself from missiles landing on people's homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians.

'...Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory.

Got that? No country on Earth would tolerate missiles raining down from outside lands. As Riggs wrote in his headline: '''...says the man who regularly bombs Pakistan and Yemen.''

Of course, many people will cry ''false equivalency!'' or justify the double standard by noting that our bombings of Pakistan and Yemen are for targeted killing of militants effectively at war with the United States. If that's how you see it, then fair enough. But one could easily say that Yemen would not tolerate missiles raining down on its civilians'... like one particular 16-year-old boy'... from outside lands.

But Obama's comment is mock-worthy solely for the fact that the crux of his contribution to the ''War on Terror'' has been to'... rain down missiles on civilians in Pakistan and Yemen from outside lands. This has also largely been the crux of American neoconservative foreign policy: outside bombings for me, but not for thee.

And if the leaders of those two countries actually stood up and threatened us with war because of our killing of their civilians, could they point to these remarks when we tell them to back off?

Watch the president's remarks below, via NBC News:'' ''>> Follow Andrew Kirell (@AndrewKirell) on Twitter

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CNN's Cooper Retracts Video of Palestinian Faking Injury

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Source: MRCTV - News & Politics

Mon, 19 Nov 2012 14:42

MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them -- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.

MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 325 South Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.

Copyright (C) 2012, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.

Iron Dome: Missile defense system a game changer, Israelis say - CNN.com

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Mon, 19 Nov 2012 20:41

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HIDE CAPTION

PedoBear

Ho's and Heavy Weapons

Benghazi security chief assassinated - Telegraph

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Wed, 21 Nov 2012 16:11

Fraj al-Dersi was hit by three bullets when unknown gunmen opened fire from a car in front of his home. He died shortly after being taken to Benghazi medical centre, the official said, asking not to be named.

Mr Dersi was appointed shortly after an attack on the US consulate September 11 which cost the lives of US ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

He had occupied leading posts under the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, including anti-drugs chief, before joining the revolt against the former dictator when it started in February 2011.

Several recent assassinations in eastern Libya, mostly of police or army officers who served under Gaddafi, have been attributed to radical Islamists.

Dr. Phil on Gen. Petraeus Affair: I'm Not Surprised | MRCTV

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Mon, 19 Nov 2012 19:43

MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them -- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.

MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 325 South Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.

Copyright (C) 2012, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.

Act II of a Scandal - Cue the Superlawyers and the Spinmasters - NYTimes.com

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Wed, 21 Nov 2012 04:18

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

A TEAM EVENT Gloria Allred, right, held a news conference in Washington on Tuesday with her new client, Natalie Khawam, Jill Kelley's twin sister.

WASHINGTON '-- In every scandal that roils this capital, the opening phase of shocking revelations and wall-to-wall news coverage soon gives way to Phase 2: the spinning. The sex-and-e-mail affair that forced out the C.I.A. director and embroiled the top American commander in Afghanistan has now ripened to the image management stage, and a venerable Washington cottage industry has been fully engaged.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press, left; Doug Mills/The New York TimesA STRATEGIST David H. Petraeus, left, the Army general and former C.I.A. chief, has hired Robert B. Barnett, whose client list includes the last three presidents.

T. Ortega Gaines/The Charlotte Observer, via Associated Press, left; Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images for Meet The PressA MEDIA SPECIALIST Paula Broadwell, left, Mr. Petraeus's biographer and lover, has turned to Bill Clinton's former White House press secretary, Dee Dee Myers.

From left: Chris O'Meara/Associated Press; Tim Sloan/Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images; Frederick M. Brown/Getty ImagesTWO ON THE TEAM Jill Kelley, left, whose complaints about anonymous e-mails set off the scandal, is represented by both Abbe D. Lowell, a top Washington defense lawyer, and Judy Smith, a self-described ''crisis management expert.''

Larry Downing/ReutersNOT ALONE Gen. John R. Allen is relying on the military for legal and other help.

The major players have hired high-profile, high-priced representatives to manage the fallout, watch for legal trouble, police the news media and massage damaged reputations.

David H. Petraeus, who admitted to an extramarital affair and stepped down from the Central Intelligence Agency on Nov. 9, has engaged Robert B. Barnett, a superlawyer whose online list of clients begins with the last three presidents. Though he is perhaps best known for negotiating book megadeals for the Washington elite, his focus this time is said to be steering Mr. Petraeus's future career, not his literary life.

Mr. Petraeus's biographer and lover, Paula Broadwell, who has said that Republican political donors encouraged her before the scandal to run for the Senate, has crossed party lines to hire Dee Dee Myers, the former Clinton White House press secretary and television pundit. Ms. Myers said her firm, the Glover Park Group, has four people at work just tracking and responding to media requests.

Jill Kelley, the Tampa, Fla., hostess whose complaint to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about anonymous e-mails touched off the conflagration, is represented by Abbe D. Lowell, one of Washington's top white-collar defense lawyers, who this year successfully defended John Edwards, accused of illegally using campaign funds to cover up his extramarital misadventures. Mr. Lowell, an acquaintance of Ms. Kelley's from the Washington social scene, immediately brought in Judy Smith, an old hand at scandals in the capital, who promotes herself on the Web as ''America's No. 1 Crisis Management Expert.''

Even a peripheral character has retained a spokeswoman. Natalie Khawam '-- Ms. Kelley's twin sister, whose main connection to the scandal is the reference letter Mr. Petraeus wrote for her in a messy child custody case '-- hired the celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred. Ms. Allred held a news conference at Washington's Ritz-Carlton on Tuesday to ''correct misconceptions'' about her client.

''My sister Jill and I aren't just twins, we're best friends,'' a tearful Ms. Khawam said in front of a dozen television cameras and 30 reporters, some of whom seemed puzzled as to the purpose of the gathering.

''We played varsity tennis together '-- she played net and I served,'' Ms. Khawam said. Also, ''we love to cook together '-- I usually bake and she saut(C)s.''

About Ms. Kelley and the F.B.I. investigation she set off, neither she nor Ms. Khawam could offer any comment, said Ms. Allred, last seen representing one of the women who accused Herman Cain, the Republican presidential candidate, of sexual harassment.

In fact, the sole major figure among the scandal's dramatis personae not to have at least a semifamous representative is Gen. John R. Allen, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, whose e-mails to Ms. Kelley are under review by the Defense Department's inspector general to determine if any were inappropriate. But the taxpayers have provided him with a top military defense lawyer, the chief defense counsel of the Marine Corps, as well as skilled military spokesmen, though they focus mainly on the war.

Law enforcement officials say it appears unlikely that anyone involved in the scandal will be charged with a crime, though the F.B.I.'s investigation of possible cyberstalking by Ms. Broadwell, unmasked as the author of the anonymous e-mails, has not been closed.

But since Washington scandals often unfold mainly in the media, an enduring ritual is to secure not just a legal adviser but a public relations specialist '-- often the same person, said Robert M. Entman, a professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University and author of ''Scandal and Silence: Media Responses to Presidential Misconduct.''

''Scandals aren't well-calibrated,'' Mr. Entman said, and the media response can be wildly unpredictable. ''It makes sense to hire someone who understands publicity and understands how the media works.''

Ms. Myers said her firm was enlisted by Ms. Broadwell's lawyers, Robert F. Muse and Joshua A. Levy, to ''help Paula and her legal team navigate a crowded media environment, manage incoming requests and ensure that her story is accurately told. It's really impossible for anyone in Paula's situation to manage the daily avalanche of interview requests, let alone try to fact-check the stories that are out there. So it makes sense to get some help.''

Much of the help comes in background conversations with reporters to rebut rumors, correct supposed misconceptions and put the client's story in a sympathetic light. It often does not involve public statements.

''I have no comment. Hope you will understand,'' said Mr. Barnett, Mr. Petraeus's lawyer. Mr. Lowell, too, declined to comment on behalf of Ms. Kelley, as did Ms. Smith. General Allen's lawyer and spokesman have limited themselves to a brief statement saying that he will fully cooperate with the inspector general's inquiry.

Ms. Allred was slightly more forthcoming, even if her main focus was not the scandal itself but the treatment of Ms. Khawam in her custody case. But she nonetheless offered counsel to the media assembled at the Ritz-Carlton, where Mr. Petraeus and Ms. Broadwell in late October attended a black-tie dinner of the O.S.S. Society, dedicated to the predecessor to the C.I.A.

''I would urge everyone to be cautious about engaging in stereotypes and language which may turn out to be not accurate in the end,'' Ms. Allred said. ''This is where journalistic integrity and skills are at stake.''

Coup and Counter-coup in Washington

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Source: TARPLEY.net

Tue, 20 Nov 2012 07:51

Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D.PressTVNovember 19, 2012

Sometimes, generals purge politicians. In 1648, during the English Civil War, Colonel Pride and his troops removed those members of the Long Parliament who opposed military domination; the puppets who remained were called the Rump Parliament.This year, a cabal of generals evidently believed it could secure the White House for Mitt Romney by staging the Benghazi incident and using it as the signal for a cold coup under cover of elections '-- probably including computer-generated election fraud '-- to bring down Obama. They guessed wrong.

Politicians sometimes purge generals. When the French Secret Army Organization (OAS) staged a putsch in Algiers in April 1961 to prevent the independence of Algeria, President de Gaulle had to round up and jail a number of generals and other officers. The Obama administration and its establishment controllers appear to be ousting a number of intelligence and military officials who took part in illegal operations to replace Obama with Romney. These sackings are being presented to the public under the guise of soap opera sexual infractions or expense account padding, in the hope of hiding some real mechanisms of power '...

Syria

Turkey to ask for NATO support on border with Syria

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Source: The Daily Star >> Live News

Mon, 19 Nov 2012 20:45

BRUSSELS: NATO said Monday it would urgently consider a request from Ankara to deploy Patriot missiles along Turkey's troubled border with Syria as the EU announced its recognition of the new Syrian opposition coalition.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the 28-member alliance, which includes Turkey, had received no formal request from Ankara for the surface-to-air missiles, but that if one was made "we will consider that as a matter of urgency".

German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere earlier anticipated an imminent request from Turkey, whose border villages have been hit by artillery fire as forces loyal to Damascus battle rebels seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In a new blow to Assad's regime, the 27-nation EU also formally recognised the opposition National Coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people.

France, which last week became the first Western country to recognise the Coalition, had urged fellow EU nations to follow in its footsteps.

Syria headed the agenda as EU foreign and defence ministers flew into Brussels for a day of talks that also touched on the conflict between Israel and Gaza.

Earlier Monday, Italy joined France in recognising the National Coalition, becoming the second Western country to do so since the opposition formed the group at talks in Qatar on November 11 after 20 months of conflict that activists say has killed more than 39,000 people.

But as clashes raged across Syria, the main Islamist groups in the northern city of Aleppo, a key frontline in the civil war, said they rejected the National Coalition.

The main Islamist rebel groups in Aleppo province, including Al-Nusra Front, meanwhile rejected the newly formed opposition bloc, calling it a "conspiratorial project".

"We, the fighting squads of Aleppo city and province... announce our consensus to establish an Islamic state" in Syria, a spokesman added in an Internet video posted Monday.

"We reject any external coalitions or councils imposed on us at home from any party whatsoever," said the unidentified speaker, who sat at the head of a long conference table with at least 30 other men and a black Islamist flag behind him.

But Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi, the head of the main rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) in embattled Aleppo, told AFP that the statement did not have unanimous backing in Aleppo.

"These groups represent a number of military factions on the ground and reflect their position, but not all military forces in Aleppo agree with this," the defected former army colonel told AFP by phone.

"The military council has announced its support for the National Coalition and is collaborating with them," Okaidi added.

The National Coalition aims to present a united front to the international community and is lobbying for weapons to help topple the Assad regime.

Germany and The Netherlands are the two main European nations that possess Patriots, the medium-range ground-to-air missiles made by US group Raytheon. NATO deployed the missiles in Turkey during the 1991 Gulf war and in 2003 during the Iraqi conflict.

"The situation on the Syria-Turkey border is of great concern," Rasmussen said. "We have all the plans ready to defend and protect Turkey if needed. The plans will be adjusted if necessary to ensure effective protection of Turkey."

Rasmussen said there was currently no question of imposing a no-fly zone with the back-up of the Patriot missiles.

On the ground in Syria, fighting flared along the Turkish border on Monday as rebels took full control of a large army base in the northern province of Aleppo that had been besieged for weeks, a military source and a watchdog group said.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius last week made a controversial proposal to arm the rebels after lifting an EU embargo on delivering arms to Syria.

But EU diplomats noted that lifting the bloc's current embargo, agreed last year, would require unanimity, while delivering arms to one side would be a highly complex matter.

Rejecting the idea out of hand, Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said his country "does not arm people who are fighting."

Syrian Islamists reject Western-backed opposition

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Source: The Daily Star >> Live News

Mon, 19 Nov 2012 20:44

BEIRUT: Syria's increasingly powerful Islamist rebel factions rejected the country's new Western-backed opposition coalition and unilaterally declared an Islamic state in the key battleground of Aleppo, a sign of the seemingly intractable splits among those fighting to topple President Bashar Assad.

The move highlights the struggle over the direction of the rebellion at a time when the opposition is trying to gain the West's trust and secure a flow of weapons to fight the regime. The rising profile of the extremist faction among the rebels could doom those efforts.

Such divisions have hobbled the opposition over the course of the uprising, which has descended into a bloody civil war. According to activists, nearly 40,000 people have been killed since the revolt began 20 months ago. The fighting has been particularly extreme in Aleppo, Syria's largest city and a major front in the civil war since the summer.

Salman Shaikh, director of The Brookings Doha Center in Qatar, said Monday the Islamists' declaration will unsettle both Western backers of the Syrian opposition and groups inside Syria, ranging from secularists to the Christian minority.

"They have to feel that the future of their country could be slipping away," Shaikh said. "This is a sign of things to come the longer this goes on. The Islamist groups and extremists will increasingly be forging alliances and taking matters into their own hands." The West is particularly concerned about sending weapons to rebels for fear they could end up in extremists' hands.

The Islamists' announcement, made in an online video released Sunday, shows the competing influences within the rebellion, between religious hardliners who want to create an Islamic state in Syria - including foreign al-Qaida-style jihadi fighters - and the newly formed Syrian National Coalition, which was created earlier this month in hopes of uniting the disparate groups fighting Assad's regime.

The National Coalition was formed under pressure from the United States, which sought a more reliable partner that nations could support.

Key to its credibility is whether it can ensure the support of the multiple, highly independent rebel brigades battling on the ground across the country within Syria, which largely ignored the previous opposition political leadership, made up of exiles.

In the new video, 13 Islamic radical factions denounced the coalition as a foreign creation.

Most important among them were the al-Tawheed Brigade, which is one of the largest rebel groups operating in Aleppo, and Jabhat al-Nusra - Arabic for "the Support Front" - which is mainly made up of foreign jihadi fighters. Jabhat al-Nusra has become notorious for suicide bombings targeting regime and military facilities and is at the forefront of fighting in Aleppo.

"We are the representatives of the fighting formations in Aleppo and we declare our rejection of the conspiratorial project, the so-called national alliance," an unidentified speaker said in the video. "We have unanimously agreed to urgently establish an Islamic state."

He spoke at the head of a conference table where about 20 others were gathered, with a black Islamist flag behind them.

The authenticity of the video could not be independently confirmed, but it was released on a website that carries al-Qaida and other militant statements, as well as on the al-Tawheed Brigade website.

The new opposition bloc, formed Nov. 11 in Qatar, is trying to allay fears of extremism within the rebellion. A moderate cleric, Mouaz al-Khatib, was chosen as its leader in an attempt to establish the movement's religious credentials with the public while countering more radical factions.

In Cairo, al-Khatib played down the significance of those who reject the alliance, saying, "we will keep in contact with them for more cooperation in the interest of the Syrian people." He also announced that the coalition would be headquartered in the Egyptian capital.

The coalition is gaining some traction internationally. France was the first Western nation to recognize it as the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people. France also welcomed a member of the Syrian opposition as the country's ambassador.

Turkey and the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council also recognized the group as the representative of the Syrian people.

But the United States and Italy have been somewhat less forthcoming. President Barack Obama has said the U.S. needed more time and wanted to make sure that the group "is committed to a democratic Syria, an inclusive Syria, a moderate Syria."

He also says the U.S. isn't considering sending weapons to the opposition because of concerns the arms might fall into the hands of extremists.

Italy took a similar view, recognizing the opposition as legitimate but stopping there.

Some European Union members have suggested arming the Syrian opposition, but officials said the idea is likely to get little traction Monday at a meeting in Brussels of foreign and defense ministers from the EU's 27 countries.

Currently, the EU has an embargo prohibiting the shipment of arms into Syria, which is likely to be renewed later this week. A senior EU official said last week that shipping weapons to Syrian rebels while keeping an embargo against the Assad regime in place would be difficult to enforce.

The violence in Syria threatens to inflame an already combustible region. The fighting already has already spilled into Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

Germany's defense minister said Monday he expects Turkey to make a formal request to NATO for Patriot missiles to bolster anti-aircraft defenses along the border with Syria.

"It may be - I expect it - that there will be a request by the Turkish government to NATO today for Patriot missiles to be stationed on the Turkish border," Thomas de Maiziere said ahead of the EU meeting.

NATO's Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said no such request had been received yet from Ankara, but that if it was it would be considered "as a matter of urgency."

"The situation along the Syrian-Turkish border is of great concern," Fogh Rasmussen said as he arrived for a meeting with the European Union's foreign and defense ministers. "We have all plans in place to defend and protect Turkey if needed."

Although the civil war has left Assad isolated internationally, Iran has stuck by Damascus.

Iran's semi-official Fars news agency said Monday that Tehran has started building a $10 billion natural gas pipeline to Syria as part of efforts to boost Iran's energy sector, which has been battered by international sanctions.

The 1,500-kilometer (900-mile) pipeline will pass through Iraq before reaching Syria.

RacialRiceGate

BBC News - US diplomat Susan Rice defends Benghazi comments

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Thu, 22 Nov 2012 04:00

21 November 2012Last updated at20:47 ETPlease turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

Rice is tipped to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

The US ambassador to the United Nations has defended comments she made days after a deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Susan Rice said her remarks in a series of TV interviews on 14 September were based on information provided by the US intelligence community.

Ms Rice has faced Republican criticism after saying the attacks stemmed from protests over an anti-Islamic film.

She is tipped to be President Obama's next choice as secretary of state.

Current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not expected to continue in the role for a second four-year term.

Ms Rice, 48, is a long-term ally and supporter of Mr Obama, and he recently defended her in public against a growing tide of criticism from political opponents.

Leading Republicans believe that the Obama administration was not frank with the public over al-Qaeda involvement in the Benghazi attack.

Congressional hearings have sought to piece together what happened, focusing on whether the CIA knew the attack involved al-Qaeda, or whether the state department failed to provide adequate protection for those in Benghazi.

The attack killed four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, on the anniversary of the 11 September strikes on New York and Washington DC.

'Best assessment'The US now accepts that it was a planned terror attack and not a spontaneous demonstration that turned violent.

Continue reading the main storyNone of us will rest, none of us will be satisfied, until we have the answers and the terrorists responsible for this attack are brought to justice''

End QuoteSusan RiceBut in her remarks just days after the violence in Benghazi, Ms Rice appeared to stick by the explanation that protests against a low-budget US film had sparked the violence in Benghazi.

Speaking at the UN on Wednesday, Ms Rice defended her initial position, and described some of the comments about her - including those by Senator John McCain, a leading critic - as "unfounded".

"As a senior US diplomat, I agreed to a White House request to appear on the Sunday shows to talk about the full range of national security issues of the day," she said.

At that time, she added, those concerns were "primarily and particularly the protests that were enveloping and threatening many diplomatic facilities, American diplomatic facilities around the world, and Iran's nuclear program".

"When discussing the attack against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community.

"I made clear that the information was preliminary, and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers," she added.

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Republican Peter King said last week that the CIA knew Benghazi was a terror attack from the outset

"Everyone, particularly the intelligence community, has worked in good faith to provide the best assessment based on the information available."

She said a "definitive accounting" would not be possible until FBI and state department reviews were finished, and described the Benghazi incident as a "heinous terrorist attack".

She praised Mr Stevens, adding: "None of us will rest, none of us will be satisfied until we have the answers, and the terrorists responsible for this attack are brought to justice."

In a post-election news conference a week ago, Mr Obama defended Ms Rice, saying her critics should "go after me" instead of launching "outrageous" attacks on the UN ambassador.

Soledad O'Brien Tees Up Clyburn to Identify Racial Code In GOP Opposition to Susan Rice

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Source: MRCTV - News & Politics

Tue, 20 Nov 2012 18:10

Interviewing Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), CNN's Soledad O'Brien quoted the incoming chair of the caucus who decried the GOP opposition to Susan Rice's candidacy for Secretary of State and said "they pick on women and minorities."

Clyburn replied that the letter signed by 97 House Republicans opposing Rice's nomination used "code words."

HOT NEWS: Race Card Being Played in Benghazigate Deneen Borelli Michael Meyers Sean Hannity - [VIDEO]

MSNBC Omits Ayotte From Report on Opposition to Rice

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Source: MRCTV - News & Politics

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 18:59

MSNBC continued its defense of President Obama and Ambassador Susan Rice on their handling of the Benghazi attack. Interestingly, the network avoided mentioning Senator Kelly Ayotte's role in the opposition to Rice's promotion to Secretary of State. In their defense, that would contradict the assertions of Congressional Democrats that Republicans are sexist and MSNBC's trope that the Republican Party is populated solely by white men.

Wait a minute, they said the criticism of Rice was "angry." Don't they know that's a racial code word?

Follow the Pipes

Iran starts building gas pipeline to Syria - Timesonline.com: Middle-east:.

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Source: DaDenMan news feed

Mon, 19 Nov 2012 14:38

An Iranian semi-official news agency says the country has started building a $10 billion natural gas pipeline to Syria as part of efforts to boost its energy sector that has been battered by international sanctions.

Monday's report by the Fars news agency says the 1,500 kilometer (750 mile) pipeline will pass through Iraq before reaching Syria. It says Iran begun construction of the first phase of the project involving a 225 kilometer (140 mile) stretch at an estimated cost of $3 billion.

Fars says the entire project is to be completed in the second half of 2013. The deal was signed between Iran, Iraq and Syria last July. .

Iran has the world's second largest natural gas reserves, estimated at 28 trillion cubic meters.

(C) 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

BP plc makes gas discovery offshore Trinidad

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Wed, 21 Nov 2012 01:53

DetailsPublished on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 10:46Written by Roberta MurrayIt's an estimated 1 trillion cubic feet of gas, doubling the estimated gas in place of the Savonette gas field.BP plc (LON:BP) subsidiary BP Trinidad & Tobago (bpTT) has discovered an estimated 1 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas offshore Trinidad, doubling the estimated gas in place of the Savonette gas field, to 2tcf.

The Savonette 4 appraisal well was drilled into an untested fault block east of the original Savonette field discovery well, in water depths of almost 300 feet in the Columbus basin approximately 80 kilometres off the south east coast of Trinidad.

The well was drilled to a total depth of 18,678 feet and penetrated hydrocarbon-bearing reservoirs in two intervals with discovered gas in place exceeding initial estimates.

The Savonette field was discovered in 2004 by the Chachalaca exploration well and began production in 2009 through a normally unmanned platform built in Trinidad at TOFCO.

Based on the success of the Savonette 4 well, bpTT is proposing to drill a further two development wells into the Savonette reservoirs.

The gas discovered began production in October 2012, with the Savonette 4 well currently flowing at approximately 225 million standard cubic feet of gas a day (mmscf/d), ramping up to 250mmscf/d.

If successful, the two additional development wells are also expected to be brought into production over the next year to eighteen months.

BP has a 100 per cent working interest in Savonette 4.

India big part of my plans, Barack Obama tells PM Manmohan Singh

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Source: ccampeador

Tue, 20 Nov 2012 14:29

PHNOM PENH: ''India is a big part of my plans,'' US President Barack Obama said today as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated him in person on his re-election.

Singh, who came face-to-face with Obama on three occasions here for the first time after he was re-elected President in the November 6 polls in the US, told him: ''Congratulations on your re-election.''

The two leaders, who attended the East Asia Summit and the retreat in the Cambodian capital, shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.

51-year-old Democrat Obama had defeated his Republican rival Mitt Romney in the Presidential polls to secure a second four-year term.

After Obama's re-election, Singh had said he looked forward to continuing their ''friendship'' and ''rewarding association'' as much more can be done together to further strengthen the bilateral partnership.

In his congratulatory message to Obama, Singh had referred to the association between the two leaders over the past four years and recalled that cooperation between the two countries had not only been advanced across the full spectrum of ties but engagement had been deepened.

''Dear Mr President, it gives me great pleasure to convey to you my warmest congratulations on your re-election as the President of the United States,'' Singh's letter had said.

Meanwhile, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon held a 90-minute meeting with his US counterpart Tom Donilon here and discussed bilateral relations and other issues of mutual interest.

Sources said it was a very fruitful interaction on several issues of mutual interest.

Link'...

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-big-part-of-my-plans-Barack-Obama-tells-PM-Manmohan-Singh/articleshow/17294919.cms

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FBI Calendar

FBI Arrests Four Men Who Plotted To Join Al Qaeda

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Source: Crooks and Liars

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 03:48

Via Talking Points Memo:

The FBI has arrested for men for allegedly plotting to join al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the bureau announced Monday. The FBI's Los Angeles field office arrested 34-year-old Sohiel Omar Kabir, 23-year-old Ralph Deleon, 21-year-old Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales and 21-year-old Arifeen David Gojali on Friday but the arrests were only made public late Monday night.

According to the 77-page complaint, Kabir, a naturalized citizen who immigrated from Afghanistan, was the primary recruiter of the other three. Between late 2010 through September 2012, Kabir used Facebook to post audio of Anwar al-Awlaki and other extremists while engaging the other three via shared links and other information.

According to the FBI agent in the affidavit, these Facebook postings were public, as were the "likes" given various articles and audio files. Over the course of several months, a confidential informant infiltrated the group, traveling with them to conferences in May and June of this year. From the conversations quoted in the affidavit, it appears they were trying to recruit the informant as well.

At the heart of things, this is a story of three young men who were so disconnected and alienated from their society that the message brought to them by the fourth of "absolute truth" and finding meaning to their lives through carrying out violence against others resonated deeply. Santana in particular said that he believed Islam would open the door for him to "fit in and actually be able to fight for something that's right."

From August through November they planned and trained at paintball facilities and shooting ranges. They all had a vision for the glory they would be covered in once they reached Afghanistan and actually joined the battle. At one point or another, they admitted they would be willing to return to the United States and commit acts of violence here in the name of jihad, too.

By last week, they had secured their passports and the money for airplane tickets. They had concocted a story about attending their friend Kabir's wedding in Kabul as the cover story for their family. Late Friday afternoon they were arrested just before leaving for the airport.

All of the recruits came from the Inland Empire -- Riverside and Chino. That area is extremely diverse and extremely conservative. Clearly they were alienated from their community and even their families in some cases. That, combined with Kabir's message of purpose and meaning through violent jihad seems to have resonated enough that they would trade away their citizenship here for a violent life elsewhere.

I'm sure there will be more on this, but the affidavit is a fascinating look at how this particular plot was infiltrated and stopped, as well as some of the factors leading into it.

Social media snags 4 U.S. residents allegedly supporting Taliban - CNN.com

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Tue, 20 Nov 2012 22:55

Four men were charged in a federal court in California for allegedly plotting with the Taliban to kill American soldiers.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

Three of the men had openly posted jihad content to FacebookOne of the men exposed his plans to the FBI in an online chatTwo of the men converted to Islam before committing to violent jihadOne man was already in Afghanistan making arrangements for the others(CNN) -- Jihadist social media postings helped lead to the arrest and charging of four Los Angeles area men who were allegedly on their way to Afghanistan to train with the Taliban and join al Qaeda, federal officials said.

They were also plotting to kill American soldiers and bomb government installations, according to a joint statement Monday by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles.

One of the men, a U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan, encouraged two of the others to embrace violent Islamic doctrine by introducing them online to radical teachings, including those of deceased U.S.-born al-Qaeda imam Anwar al-Awlaki.

The three exposed their connection to each other and their radical leanings explicitly on Facebook for over a year. And one of them detailed his intentions to participate in jihad in an online chat with an FBI employee.

Another man was recruited at a later point to join the other three in their training.

All four were charged Monday in a federal court in California, where three of them appeared for the first time. One of the men was already in Afghanistan, where he was apprehended, said U.S. attorney Andr(C) Birotte Jr. and assistant director Bill Lewis from the FBI's Los Angeles field office in a joint statement.

Sohiel Omar Kabir, Ralph Deleon, Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales and Arifeen David Gojali face charges of supporting terrorists who conspired to kill, kidnap or harm U.S. officers and other U.S. citizens, as well as bomb public places and government facilities.

The Joint Terrorism Task Force in Riverside, California, arrested Deleon, 23, Santana, 21, and Gojali, 21, on Friday. Kabir, 34, is in custody in Afghanistan, according to the criminal complaint submitted to the U.S. District Court.

Kabir spent six months in Germany before arriving in Afghanistan last July, where he was preparing for the others' arrival.

Deleon's attorney, Randolph Driggs of Orange, California, declined to comment Tuesday. The attorney for Santana also declined to comment.

The 74-page complaint details evidence collected against the men from online chats with FBI employees, travel documents, extensive contact with an informant, recorded conversations and their active social media accounts.

Kabir, Santana and Deleon all posted radical jihad content to their Facebook page, the court documents allege. But Kabir's page in particular contained multiple links to and videos by al-Awlaki, videos depicting mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan, improvised explosive devices and suicide bombings.

"Deleon and Santana 'liked' postings on Kabir's Facebook page as early as May 2011," according to the court document.

Kabir led Santana and Deleon to convert and join the Taliban, eventually leading to membership in al-Qaeda, the criminal complaint alleges. Santana recruited Gojali, the fourth man, to join them for the trip abroad to train as terrorists.

Santana tipped off authorities about his militant inclinations when a customs officer at the border with Mexico questioned him about the jihad magazine "Inspire" he was carrying into the United States.

He allegedly engaged in chat conversations with an FBI "online covert employee" and confirmed his desire to join al Qaeda.

An unnamed "confidential source" working for the FBI won the trust of Santana and Deleon, according to the complaint, spent time with them and recorded many of their conversations.

"Santana and Deleon told a confidential source...that they planned to travel to Afghanistan to engage in "violent jihad," the FBI and U.S. Attorney statement said.

Their conversations with the confidential source revealed details of their "travel logistics, including flights, passports and visas." Kabir was to meet up with the three others and lead them to the Taliban, the court document said.

Santana and Deleon allegedly pre-trained on a firing range and at a paintball center and took the confidential source along with them.

Deleon told the confidential source he would quit school and withdraw his tuition money to help pay for the trip to Afghanistan, the criminal complaint said.

Santana told the confidential source said he would like to drive a truck bomb, if he could do it with a big truck. "Just drive it into like the baddest military base," he said, according to the document. "If I'm gonna do, I'm gonna do that. I'm gonna take out a whole base."

Kabir is a naturalized U.S. citizen, who was born in Afghanistan and lived in Pomona, California. Deleon is a permanent U.S. resident living in Ontario and was born in the Philippines. Santana, a resident of Upland, is a lawful permanent resident, born in Mexico, who has applied for U.S. citizenship. Gojali, 21, of Riverside, is a U.S. citizen.

The men face a maximum sentence of 15 years in a federal prison, if convicted.

CNN's Irving Last, Jaqueline Hurtado and Michael Martinez contributed to this report.

Drone Nation

Jeremy Scahill "The Petraeus Legacy: A Paramilitary CIA?"

Obama: Israel has 'every right' to defend itself from Gaza missile attacks - U.S. News

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Tue, 20 Nov 2012 04:46

President Barack Obama spoke on the unrest in the Middle East while on a trip to Asia. The president's trip is meant to put a focus on foreign policy, with the president making a tour of the region, including Myanmar and Cambodia. NBC's Chuck Todd reports from Bangkok.

By NBC News staff and news services

President Barack Obama said Sunday that Israel has ''every right'' to defend itself against missile attacks by militants inside Gaza but warned that escalating the offensive with Israeli ground troops could undermine any hope of a peace process with the Palestinians.

"Let's understand what the precipitating event here that's causing the current crisis and that was an ever-escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli territory but in areas that are populated, and there's no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders,'' Obama said at press conference in Thailand at the start of a three-nation tour in Asia.

''So we are fully supportive of Israel's right to defend itself from missiles landing on people's homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians."

He added: "Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory. If that can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that's preferable. It's not just preferable for the people of Gaza. It's also preferable for Israelis, because if Israeli troops are in Gaza, they're much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded."

Netanyahu: Israel prepared for 'significant expansion' of Gaza operation

More than 50 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds more wounded in the four days of Israeli assaults. Egyptian officials are working on securing a truce between Israel and the Palestinian factions, which could help avert a war both sides say they are prepared to fight. NBC's Ayman Mohyeldin reports.

Obama directed some of his comments to the heads of state of Egypt and Turkey, both countries that are supportive of the Palestinians. ''Those who champion the cause of Palestinians should recognize that if we see a further escalation of the situation in Gaza than the likelihood of us getting back on any kind of peace track that leads to a two-state solution is going to be pushed off way into the future,'' he said.

Obama's comments came as Israel's campaign against Hamas militants in Gaza blasted into its fifth day. Israel is at a crossroads of whether to launch a ground invasion or pursue Egyptian-led truce efforts, and Obama sought to clearly defend the U.S. ally's military rights while pushing for a halt in the violence.

Key players in the Israel-Gaza cross-border conflict

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Sunday that Israel was prepared to significantly expand its military operation in Gaza. Obama has been lobbying Netanyahu along with the leaders of Egypt and Turkey to try to halt the crisis -- including stopping rocket strikes on Israel.

Ammar Awad / Reuters

Two sides exchange deadly airstrikes, rocket attacks.

He said Israel was justly responding to "an ever escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli territory, but in areas that are populated. And there's no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders."

Obama said Palestinians will have no chance to pursue their own state and a lasting peace with Israel as long as rockets are fired into Israel. He said he hoped for a clearer process over the next 48 hours -- showing how much the Mideast conflict had intruded on his diplomatic mission to Asia.

NBC News' Shawna Thomas and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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President Obama Gives Pakistan And Yemen Permission To Attack United States? | Mediaite

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Tue, 20 Nov 2012 04:46

video

Sunday morning in Thailand, President Barack Obama exchanged the usual pleasantries and gave the usual declarations to the press one would expect when a president begins a three-day tour of Southeast Asia. When asked about the ongoing (and growing) Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the president gave a full-throated defense of Israel's decision to launch military strikes on Gaza in return for Palestinian rocket attacks.

But Reason's Mike Riggsnoticed something particularly hilarious/sad about the president's remarks: Obama accidentally satirized himself and American foreign policy with a few unwittingly ironic lines (emphasis mine):

Let's understand what the precipitating event here that's causing the current crisis and that was an ever-escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli territory but in areas that are populated, and there's no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.

'...So we are fully supportive of Israel's right to defend itself from missiles landing on people's homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians.

'...Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory.

Got that? No country on Earth would tolerate missiles raining down from outside lands. As Riggs wrote in his headline: '''...says the man who regularly bombs Pakistan and Yemen.''

Of course, many people will cry ''false equivalency!'' or justify the double standard by noting that our bombings of Pakistan and Yemen are for targeted killing of militants effectively at war with the United States. If that's how you see it, then fair enough. But one could easily say that Yemen would not tolerate missiles raining down on its civilians'... like one particular 16-year-old boy'... from outside lands.

But Obama's comment is mock-worthy solely for the fact that the crux of his contribution to the ''War on Terror'' has been to'... rain down missiles on civilians in Pakistan and Yemen from outside lands. This has also largely been the crux of American neoconservative foreign policy: outside bombings for me, but not for thee.

And if the leaders of those two countries actually stood up and threatened us with war because of our killing of their civilians, could they point to these remarks when we tell them to back off?

Watch the president's remarks below, via NBC News:'' ''>> Follow Andrew Kirell (@AndrewKirell) on Twitter

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Water & Blankets

NYC Sandy victims start receiving Russian blankets

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Source: Set You Free News

Mon, 19 Nov 2012 06:49

By Vasily Sushko | VOR

''Thank you, to the whole Russian Government, I mean that's amazing. You are actually saving lives because I know some people that actually had a bronchitis and pneumonia because they weren't staying warm. Believe it or not, you might think that '' oh, we just donated blankets '' but those blankets may actually save a lot of people's lives.''

Russia's humanitarian aid for Hurricane Sandy victims is being distributed in NYC now, Voice of Russia correspondent Vasily Sushko reports. Two Russian airplanes delivered 20,000 blankets early Wednesday morning to John F Kennedy International Airport in New York City, which were accepted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In the heart of Far Rockaway, a community in Southern Queens that was severely affected by Hurricane Sandy, a large patch of blankets was distributed to those who are trying to escape the cold during a time when most of the community is without heat or electricity.

The blankets were part of the Russian aid mission to help in the humanitarian assistance of Sandy survivors. They were flown into the US earlier this week by Russia's own Emergency Ministry.

The Voice of Russia witnessed the first blankets being distributed this past Saturday at the United Methodist Church in Far Rockaway where volunteers, like Rev. Joseph Ewoodzie, lent a hand in handing them out.

''Right after the Hurricane Sandy came a very strong Nor'easter that brought snow and dropped a lot more of the electricity. So, people are really in need. This area has a lot of homeless, and I guess you imagine the homeless without the little warmth they have. So, these blankets which gone a long way at least provide a little comfort to those who need them.''

While most of New Yorkers who lost electricity have gotten a blanket '' that is not to say that the worst hit areas aren't in complete disarray. With tens of thousands of residents in New York City and Long Island now without power for nearly three weeks life has gotten extremely difficult for many New Yorkers.

Maria Vincent '' a Rockaway resident and a recipient of the Russian donated blanket explains: ''We are going on almost a month and until now we still do not have complete power in this area. Especially, as you know, we are by the beach, so '' if you are more inland it is a little bit warmer. But it is still terrible out here.''

It was the worst storm to hit the area in decades and the result was catastrophic. Communities, like Breezy Point, were literally engulfed by a 14-foot surge which also managed to knock out electricity to hundreds of thousands of customers in the area.

After nearly three weeks power has been restored to many but not residents in communities like Breezy Point, Far Rockaway or Long Beach. Residents there have been facing the cold temperatures without any heat or electricity.

In Rockaway residents like Vincent were thankful to receive a little bit of relief.

''Thank you, to the whole Russian Government, I mean that's amazing. You are actually saving lives because I know some people that actually had a bronchitis and pneumonia because they weren't staying warm. Believe it or not, you might think that '' oh, we just donated blankets '' but those blankets may actually save a lot of people's lives.''

The United Methodist Center in Far Rockaway distributed nearly 2000 blankets on Saturday. Rev. Ewoodzie said it only took a few hours for all of them to be gone. With the high demand Ewoodzie said that on Sunday the church plans to distribute another 2000.

Along with the United Methodist Church the organizations like the Salvation Army and AmeriCorps are assisting in distributing the blankets to residents in areas hardest hit by the storm.

Obama Nation

Obama Repeatedly Mispronounces Aung San Suu Kyi | The Blog on Obama: White House Dossier

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Mon, 19 Nov 2012 19:07

During his stop in Burma earlier today, President Obama repeatedly mispronounced the name of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate and former political prisoner who has led the struggle for a free and democratic Burma.

From the Associated Press:

As Obama stood next to the world's most recognized democracy icon, he mispronounced her name repeatedly.

Ever gracious, Suu Kyi did not correct her American guest for calling her Aung YAN Suu Kyi multiple times during his statement to reporters after their meeting.

Proper pronunciation for the Nobel laureate's name is Ahng Sahn Soo Chee.

What's more, Obama also botched the name of his official host, Burma's reformist new president, Thein Sein.

As the two addressed the media, Obama called his counterpart ''President Sein,'' an awkward, slightly affectionate reference that would make most Burmese cringe.

Note to presidential advisers: For future rounds of diplomacy, the president of Myanmar is President Thein Sein '' on first and second reference.

Such diplomatic faux pas by George W. Bush would no doubt have sparked peals of outrage and ridicule back home.

The mistake by Obama is even more notable because he tries to please foreign audiences by correctly pronouncing words and names in their languages.

For example, uniquely among U.S. leaders, Obama refers to Pakistan as ''Pahkeestahn,'' which is closer to the way the country's name is pronounced by native speakers.

Here is some video of today's serial mispronunciations:

H/T to Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit.

Related Posts:Tagged as: Aung San Suu Kyi, Obama

How Much Does Obamacare Cost? Obama Small Biz Chief: 'I Bought Jam For My Friends Last Year!'

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Source: MRCTV - News & Politics

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 17:38

On Morning Joe, President Obama's Small Business Administration head, Karen Mills, when asked to state the cost per worker of Obamacare, ducks the question and winds up talking about how last year, she bought blueberry jam at a farmers market in Maine as gifts for friends.

Shut Up Slave!

BBC News - Risk profiling software tackles the terrorist threat

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Wed, 21 Nov 2012 04:12

20 November 2012Last updated at19:00 ETBy Frank GardnerBBC security correspondentPlease turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

Frank Gardner is shown how SAS's risk profiling software works

A British company has developed a hi-tech software programme it believes can help detect and prevent potentially dangerous passengers and cargo entering the UK using the technique known as "risk profiling".

Executives at SAS Software, based in Buckinghamshire, say the use of such a programme could well have prevented the so-called "underpants bomber" being able to board a flight to Detroit in 2009 with explosives sewn into his underwear.

So, what exactly is risk profiling and can it really reduce the risk of international terrorism?

Risk profiling is a controversial topic. It means identifying a person or group of people who are more likely to act in a certain way than the rest of the population, based on an analysis of their background and past behaviour.

When it comes to airline security, some believe this makes perfect sense.

Why, for example, hold up the queue at immigration to cross question or search the proverbial "little old lady" who is statistically less likely to be a threat than the 24-year old male flying in from a country with security problems?

Others, though, say this smacks of prejudice and would inevitably lead to unacceptable racial or religious profiling - singling out someone because, say, they happen to be Muslim or born in Yemen.

Threat detectionSAS Software, a British-based company with an annual global turnover of £1.7bn and which has absolutely nothing to do with the British Army's Special Air Service, stress that their software is "blind" to such prejudices.

Joanne Taylor, the company's director of public security, says: "The risk profiling utilises lots and lots of different variables. Every piece of data available has nothing to do with racial profiling in its own right or where they happen to have come from.

"It's the same techniques that are used by banks or insurance companies to determine whether you should be given a mortgage; are you a high risk of defaulting?"

The programme works by feeding in data about passengers or cargo, including the Advanced Passenger Information (API) that airlines heading to Britain are obliged to send to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) at "wheels up" - the exact moment the aircraft lifts off from the airport of departure.

Additional information could include a combination of factors, like whether the passenger paid for their ticket in cash, or if they have ever been on a watch list or have recently spent time in a country with a known security problem.

Continue reading the main storyBorder agencies have got vast amounts of information available to them that they are not fully exploiting''

End QuoteIan ManochaSAS SoftwareThe data is then analysed to produce a schematic read-out for immigration officials that shows the risk profile for every single passenger on an incoming flight, seat by seat, high risk to low risk.

'Exported' bordersIt may sound a bit Orwellian - a further example of state surveillance in a country already awash with CCTV cameras and where some senior intelligence officials are pushing to have access to everyone's internet traffic.

So is this sort of risk profiling justified? Do the results justify the means?

Last year, a pilot scheme for similar "intelligence-led border controls" was run, after which Damian Green, the Immigration Minister, concluded: "It is early intelligence, before people get on a plane, that will keep our borders more secure. I want to export our borders so they start at airports around the world."

Ian Manocha, vice president at SAS Software, says the principal works just as much for cargo as it does for passengers.

He says South Korean Customs, which have bought the programme, report a 20% higher detection rate of illegal goods.

"Border agencies have got vast amounts of information available to them that they are not fully exploiting," says Mr Manocha.

"They have to make decisions about freight coming into the country and looking for high risk scenarios.

"Whether it be a bomb threat or potentially a more mundane and routine challenge. For example passage of contraband cargo, drugs or human trafficking.

"All of these challenges are a needle in the haystack problem. And smart technology can really get to find that needle in the haystack that much quicker".

Early warningsSo could such a programme have prevented the printer ink toner-cartridge bombs being placed on a plane from Yemen bound for the US in 2010?

Probably not, admits Mr Manocha, as that plot was stopped not by technology but by a tip-off from a human informant inside Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

But when asked if it would have stopped Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian "underpants bomber", from boarding his flight to Detroit with hidden explosives next to his body in 2009, Peter Snelling, the company's principle technical consultant, says: "I think it's fairly confident to say that yes we would have matched it up."

Risk profiling programmes are definitely not to everyone's liking.

They also carry an inherent danger that innocent individuals could be pulled over and questioned, searched and delayed, although the programmes' proponents would argue they help reduce this risk by feeding in a wide range of known facts.

But whether we are aware of them or not, risk profiling programmes are already in use all over the world and with the volume of air traffic set to expand even further, they look set to become an ever more common part of the invisible scenery around us.

San Francisco Officials Vote to Ban Public Nudity

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Source: NYT > Home Page

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 04:10

SAN FRANCISCO '-- The command from city officials to residents was simple: Put your clothes back on.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 6 to 5 on Tuesday to approve a ban on public nudity. The vote means that there will be no more lounging nude in the city's plazas, parading up and down city streets sans pants or riding subways and buses bare-bottomed.

Scott Wiener, a city supervisor who represents the Castro district, introduced the ordinance after an increase in the number of habitual nudists and a rise in complaints from residents and business owners.

''The nudity situation in the Castro has become extreme,'' Mr. Wiener told his colleagues.

After city supervisors approved the ban, the crowd at City Hall erupted in loud heckling and booing.

''Recall Wiener! Wiener is a Republican!'' shouted Gerhart Clarke, 55, who stood up along with half a dozen others and stripped down to the buff.

''Shame on you!'' another woman yelled, pulling off her shirt. ''What are you afraid of?''

Anticipating the nude protesters, sheriff's deputies draped them in blue blankets and led them out of the meeting hall.

Under the new ordinance, public nudity will be subject to a series of fines. A first-time violation would result in a fine of up to $100. A second citation in the same year would cost up to $200, and a third would result in a fine of up to $500 or a misdemeanor and up to one year in jail.

On most sunny or even moderately warm days here, a handful of naturalists (known locally as ''the naked guys'') can be found reading newspapers or stalking around the Castro district's Jane Werner Plaza looking like an out-of-place flock of pale and ungainly birds.

The law will not go into effect until after Feb. 1, which will allow enough time for a federal judge to consider a lawsuit brought against the city by a group of nudists who claim that the ordinance infringes on their constitutional right to free speech.

As long as it is not lewd or offensive, public nudity is legal under state law. But on Tuesday, San Francisco joined many other cities that prohibit it, including nearby San Jose and Berkeley.

This is a city that prides itself on its inclusivity and diversity and, in that vein, the ordinance does allow for some exceptions.

Preschoolers can still go bare, women can still go topless and public nudity will continue to be allowed at events permitted by the city, including the annual gay pride parade and the Folsom Street Fair, a street party billed as the largest leather and fetish event in the world.

Several supervisors adamantly opposed the ban.

''I cannot and will not bite this apple,'' John Avalos said before voting against the measure. ''I refuse to put on this fig leaf.''

De zaak-Vaatstra: dertien jaar lang onopgeloste moord

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Source: VK: Home

Mon, 19 Nov 2012 06:47

Bewerkt door: redactie '' 19/11/12, 07:33 '' bron: ANP

(C) anp. Het graf van Marianne Vaatstra in Zwaagwesteinde.

Een van de bekendste misdaadzaken van de afgelopen jaren, is de moord op de Friese tiener Marianne Vaatstra. Een 'whodunnit' die langer dan een decennium duurde. Vanochtend werd duidelijk dat er mogelijk een dader is gevonden.

Marianna Vaatstra was 16 jaar toen ze in mei 1999 werd verkracht en vermoord in een weiland in de buurt van het Friese Veenklooster. Ze was op de fiets onderweg van Kollum naar haar ouderlijk huis in Zwaagwesteind. Daar kwam ze nooit aan.

Justitie en politie richten zich aanvankelijk op het asielzoekerscentrum De Poelpleats bij Kollum. Een Irakees en een Afghaan zouden kort na de moord het azc hebben verlaten. De twee worden in Turkije en Engeland aangehouden. Een DNA-onderzoek wijst uit dat ze de moord niet gepleegd konden hebben.

AsielzoekersToch blijft het publiek wijzen naar de asielzoekers. Tijdens een bijeenkomst in oktober 1999 over uitbreiding van het azc bekogelen omwonenden de burgemeester en medewerkers van het Centraal Orgaan opvang asielzoekers (COA) met eieren.

Tal van politie-onderzoeken volgen, zij het zonder resultaat. De ouders van Marianne beschuldigen justitie van geknoei.

3D-teamŒn 2007 richten politie en Openbaar Ministerie een '3D-team' op dat de zaak opnieuw onder de loep neemt. Ook misdaadverslaggever Peter R. de Vries gaat zich met de zaak-Vaatstra bemoeien en besteedt er veel aandacht aan in zijn tv-programma. Politie en justitie gaan er vanuit dat de dader een blanke man moet zijn uit de omgeving.

Begin deze eeuw stuitte een grootschalig DNA-onderzoek onder mannelijke inwoners van Kollum en omgeving nog op politieke tegenstand. Dit jaar kwam dat onderzoek er toch met als resultaat een match van 100 procent.

De verdachte is een 44-jarige blanke man die 2,5 kilometer van de plaats delict woont.

EUROLand

US 'hacked office of Sarkozy'

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Source: BBC News - Europe

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 18:04

21 November 2012Last updated at10:36 ETA French news magazine has accused the US government of hacking into the office of Nicolas Sarkozy in the final weeks of his presidency of France.

L'Express said a cyber war agency whose job it is to detect and prevent hacking had found a "powerful worm" in the computers of the Elysee Palace.

The palace has since confirmed a big cyber attack did take place.

The US embassy in Paris "categorically denied" the US had been involved in any cyber attack on the French government.

US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, for her part, refused to confirm or deny the allegation, telling L'Express the US had no more important partner nor greater ally than France.

'Via Facebook'The malware the French authorities are said to have discovered is called Flame.

Hugely sophisticated, it can collect files on a machine, take screen shots, and even activate the microphone on a computer to record conversations.

According to L'Express, even the computer of Mr Sarkozy's chief of staff, Xavier Musca, was hacked.

The worm was probably introduced to the Elysee network through Facebook, L'Express says.

It was found in the system shortly after the second round vote of the presidential election on 6 May, and it took agents three days to clean it out, L'Express reports.

In May, Russian security firm Kaspersky Labs told BBC News it believed that Flame had been in operation since August 2010, collecting data in countries like Israel and Iran.

The company said it believed the malware was state-sponsored but it could not be sure of its exact origins.

Previously, targeted malware such as Stuxnet was used against nuclear infrastructure in Iran.

Greek Debt Stalemate Centers on Deadlines

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Source: NYT > Home Page

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 15:12

BRUSSELS '-- Euro zone finance ministers and international officials ended marathon talks on Greece's intractable debt early Wednesday still at loggerheads over payment of further emergency aid.

The failure to reach an agreement for the second week in a row highlighted the depth of differences among officials on how to find the money to keep the Greek economy afloat to contain contagion in the euro zone even as the country's debt prospects worsen.

The German finance minister, Wolfgang Sch¤uble, said after nearly 12 hours of talks that some of ''the questions are so complicated, we didn't find a conclusive solution.''

Finance ministers will meet again Monday to resume the discussions. Mr. Sch¤uble noted that European leaders could take up the discussions during a two-day summit meeting in Brussels that is to begin Thursday. As part of that effort, the spokesman for the Greek government said Prime Minister Antonis Samaras would hold talks Thursday with Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of the euro zone finance ministers' group, known as the Eurogroup, Reuters reported.

''Greece has done what it had to and what it had committed to doing,'' Mr. Samaras said in a statement. ''Our partners, along with the I.M.F., also must do what they have undertaken.''

While there is little immediate threat that creditors will deny further aid to the government in Athens, finding a formula to turn the spigot back on has proved intensely difficult, particularly for Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking to avoid making new financing commitments to the most vulnerable euro area countries, like Greece, ahead of her re-election campaign next year.

That has left the leadership of the euro zone jawboning at a seemingly endless series of late-night meetings.

Greece is seeking to unlock a '‚¬31.5 billion, or $40.3 billion, installment of loans from an international bailout program. If ministers do reach a deal, Greece is likely to get a larger amount, about '‚¬44 billion, because two additional installments are due by the end of the year under the program.

The current program, worth a total of '‚¬130 billion, has been frozen since June, when creditors determined that Greece was failing to meet the conditions of the bailout.

During closed-door discussions that began Tuesday evening, ministers and international officials also were at loggerheads over whether to give Greece two more years, to 2016, to reach a primary budget surplus, a concession requiring nearly '‚¬33 billion on top of existing bailouts.

Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, insisted that financing Greece until 2016 would help it to the path of making its debt manageable by the end of the decade.

But a number of euro member states resisted that suggestion, insisting on limiting questions of how to finance Greece through 2014. Using a target date of 2014 would cost less, about '‚¬15 billion, but that would leave questions unresolved about the country's financing.

In an effort to address the added costs, the ministers considered options like lowering interest rates on Greek debt, lengthening the deadlines for debt repayments, allowing Greece to buy back its bonds at a steep discount and asking the European Central Bank to return profits made on Greek bonds.

But many analysts agree that at some point, Greece's official lenders will have to take politically unpalatable losses, or haircuts, on their holdings of Greek debt to keep the country in the euro area, even if other measures are taken to reduce the size of the state deficit and reform the economy.

Another critical challenge for the finance ministers, known as the Eurogroup, was smoothing over differences among the members of the so-called troika of lenders '-- the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund '-- over how quickly Greece should be obliged to bring its towering debt under control.

In a public disagreement last week at the previous Eurogroup meeting, Ms. Lagarde insisted that Greece cut its debt to the fund's target of 120 percent of gross domestic product by 2020, while Mr. Juncker, chairman of the group, recommended giving Greece until 2022, a position shared by Germany.

Arriving at the meeting Tuesday, Ms. Lagarde emphasized the importance of the 2020 goal to her organization, which under its rules cannot continue lending unless Greece's debt is deemed sustainable. Finding a solution was ''our goal, our purpose and our mission,'' she said.

The difference is a highly sensitive matter for Greece's biggest creditors in the euro zone, and for Germany in particular.

The German leadership is wary of political repercussions from higher costs that would result from meeting the 2020 deadline. The Greek debt is now estimated at 175 percent of G.D.P., and the economy could shrink again next year.

''We are narrowing our positions,'' Mr. Juncker said early Wednesday, referring to the gulf between him and Ms. Lagarde on Greece's debt prospects.

''We are very close to a result,'' and there was ''no major stumbling block,'' Mr. Juncker insisted.

Mr. Samaras, the Greek prime minister, who is struggling to hold together an increasingly fragile coalition, has said he hoped that a final push by Athens to tie up loose ends could help speed money for the two-year extension to the country's fiscal adjustment period.

UKIP Nigel Farage - The Dead Hand of Bureaucracy (Second-round speech Nov 2012)

France should not be bounced into reform by Moody's downgrade | Business | guardian.co.uk

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Wed, 21 Nov 2012 03:59

France's finance minister Pierre Moscovici says Moody's decision was a condemnation of the Sarkozy regime. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Investors appear to have taken Moody's decision to downgrade France's credit rating after the markets closed on Monday night in their stride; but it has intensified the focus on the eurozone's second-largest economy, after the International Monetary Fund warned that the country must undertake radical reforms or face the fate of chronically uncompetitive Spain or Italy.

Finance minister Pierre Moscovici told reporters on Tuesday morning that Moody's decision was a condemnation of the Sarkozy government's policies, not an assessment of the Hollande regime's approach.

That's the classic, kneejerk response of a new government '' but the Hollande regime is right not to accept unquestioningly the markets', or the IMF's, prescription for so-called "structural reform" '' an anodyne phrase that can disguise wrenching social and economic changes better phased in over years than imposed at the stroke of a pen from the Elys(C)e.

France may be losing ground against Germany, not least because of German workers' masochistic willingness to accept repeated cuts in their real take-home pay in exchange for job security. And there are deep problems with the insider-outsider culture in France that means kids growing up in les banlieues have little chance of breaking through into the economic mainstream.

But it would be a mistake to compare France's deteriorating current account '' it has a deficit of around 3.5% of GDP '' unfavourably with the "improvement" in Ireland, Spain or Greece. It's hardly surprising the current account deficit in these countries has shrunk '' they've seen domestic demand collapse amid catastrophic recessions.

France still has ambitious industrial champions; and it's one of the few economies in Europe where there remains something resembling a social contract, instead of an atomistic free-for-all. Vintage French crooner Johnny Hallyday may have tried to become Belgian for the purposes of avoiding the Hollande government's swingeing 70% top rate of tax; but the bosses of many state-owned firms have uncomplainingly swallowed big pay cuts, in line with the policy of capping their income at 20 times that of their lowest-paid worker.

And Hollande is far from deaf to the complaints of industry that it's too burdened with social costs and strung about with regulations to succeed: his prime minister has announced '‚¬20bn-worth of tax-breaks for firms, after a report by ex-EADS boss Louis Gallois called for a national "competitiveness shock". France does need to reform '-- but it will be a complex, politically fraught process that should be carefully managed. Recent experience suggests heeding the advice of the IMF, let along the ratings agencies, is not even a recipe for economic success, let alone social or political harmony.

Dutch tradition caught in racist accusations

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Source: euronews

Mon, 19 Nov 2012 20:17

Saint Nicolas has arrived in Amsterdam heralding the start of the Dutch celebrations for Christmas. As always since the mid 1800's he was surrounded by his helpers '' Zwarte Pieten '' Black Peter. According to tradition they carry a book full of names of the, ''naughty'' children and also hand out sweets.

The presence of the fictional character in the celebrations has sparked a growing row with accusations of racism led by one activist, Quinsy Gario who last year was arrested for protesting without permission.

''When this tradition was started the general idea was that black people were worth less than those who were white. We are now in 2012 and we have to admit those ideas from those times don't apply to now,'' he said.

Saint Nicolas or Sinterklass as the Dutch call him has been celebrated for many centuries, the Black Peter character was only introduced in 1850 when slavery still existed.

''We are sure that Amsterdam is a very multi-cultural city and you can't really blame us for racism,'' said one person who joined the crowd to welcome Saint Nicolas while another added, ''When I was a teenager, I had the impression the tradition was racist, but now I don't think so. Zwarte Pieten are 'black' because they get dirty climbing down chimneys.''

That's a theory which doesn't wash with many. The number of complaints which the regional Anti-Discrimination Bureau receive about Black Pete has soared from one or two to more than a hundred.

More about:Christmas, Netherlands, Racism, TraditionCopyright (C) 2012 euronews

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Bullcrap PR

Mars Discovery: NASA touts Curiosity data that points to historic discovery.

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Wed, 21 Nov 2012 03:58

Self portrait of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, which arrived at the Red Planet on Aug. 6, 2012. Andrew Bodrov/360Cities.net/NASA/JPL/Caltech.

Curiosity is living up to its name. The NASA rover currently wheeling itself around Mars has apparently sent back some very interesting data from the Red Planet in the form of a soil sample that shows ... well, something. From the sounds of it, something big. But for now at least, that's all anyone is willing to say.

Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena are keeping their lips sealed for the time being while they run additional tests to make sure the discovery holds up. That, however, hasn't stopped one of the mission's leaders from speculating loudly that it'll be one that rewrites at least some of what we know about the universe.

"This data is gonna be one for the history books," John Grotzinger, the rover mission's principal investigator, told NPR last week for a the buzz-inciting segment that aired today. "It's looking really good."

What we do know is that the data comes from a soil sample analyzed by the rover's Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, an on-board lab known as SAM, so if the data holds up to further testing it appears possible, and perhaps likely, that it is a discovery of an element on Mars previously thought not to exist on the Red Planet.

Of course, the reason that NASA is keeping the potential find (mostly) under wraps is because it may turn out to be nothing but a false alarm, something that's happened before to the mission. NPR explains:

So why doesn't Grotzinger want to share his exciting news? The main reason is caution. Grotzinger and his team were almost stung once before. When SAM analyzed an air sample, it looked like there was methane in it, and at least here on Earth, some methane comes from living organisms. But Grotzinger says they held up announcing the finding because they wanted to be sure they were measuring Martian air, and not air brought along from the rover's launchpad at Cape Canaveral.

"We knew from the very beginning that we had this risk of having brought air from Florida. And we needed to diminish it and then make the measurement again," he says. And when they made the measurement again, the signs of methane disappeared.

But the simple fact Grotzinger is willing to talk so openly (and excitedly) about the possible discovery in light of the past let downs would seem to suggest he has a good deal of confidence that it will hold up to further testing.

No word on exactly how long it will take before we learn more, but Grotzinger told NPR that it will likely take "several weeks" before he and his team are ready to go public. Until then, feel free to take to the comments with your best (or worst) guesses.

Oil Cabal/Agenda 21

An American Oil Find That Holds More Than All of OPEC

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Source: Global Geopolitics

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 15:04

Following up from another story hitting out at American energy independence, the chatter continues to increase by a small amount. However, and per usual, the only obstacle holding this back are the politics of overblown environmental concerns and the red tape from them, a form of economic warfare. See also this, and this. Until the restrictive tape is removed, it's likely to remain a pipe dream at best.

Drillers in Utah and Colorado are poking into a massive shale deposit trying to find a way to unlock oil reserves that are so vast they would swamp OPEC.

A recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimated that if half of the oil bound up in the rock of the Green River Formation could be recovered it would be ''equal to the entire world's proven oil reserves.''

Both the GAO and private industry estimate the amount of oil recoverable to be 3 trillion barrels.

''In the past 100 years '-- in all of human history '-- we have consumed 1 trillion barrels of oil. There are several times that much here,'' said Roger Day, vice president for operations for American Shale Oil (AMSO).

'...

This tantalizing bonanza, however, remains just out of reach, at least for now. The cost of extracting the Green River oil at the moment would be higher than what it could be sold for. And there are significant environmental obstacles.

The operation might require so much water it would compete with Denver and agriculture for vital supplies, the GAO report warned, could pollute underground streams, affect fish and other wildlife, and kick up so much dirt it would leave national monuments in a cloud of dust.

Nevertheless, the federal government has authorized six experimental drilling leases on federal land in an effort to find a way to tap into the riches of the Green River Formation.

Full article:An American Oil Find That Holds More Than All of OPEC (ABC)

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The end of the oil world as we know it

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Source: ccampeador

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 14:55

Published Wednesday, Nov. 21 2012, 7:00 AM EST

Last updated Tuesday, Nov. 20 2012, 7:02 PM EST

The International Energy Agency's report ricocheted around the world last week, and nowhere more so than in Canada.

The United States will become the world's largest producer of oil by 2020, predicted the IEA, and North America will become a net oil exporter by 2030. So much for foolishness about the end of oil. So much for the comfortable assumption in Canada that the U.S. would always soak up every drop of oil we could export to them.

Hidden in the report, however, are two other implicit assumptions of immense importance for the future. First, for the first time since president Franklin D. Roosevelt made cozy with the Saud dynasty, the United States will not need, let alone be beholden to, oil-producing countries in the Middle East. Second, the international target of holding the increase in global temperatures to two degrees Celsius is a forlorn hope.

It would be simplistic to say that oil alone has driven U.S. interests in the Middle East, but it would also be simplistic to ignore that oil imports from that region have been critical for the U.S. economy. And with economic realities have gone geopolitical interests.

Oil helped to link the interests of sheikdoms and autocracies to the consumers of the United States '' and through them to their democratically elected government. U.S. administrations have been keen to promote human rights where it suits, as President Barack Obama has just done in Myanmar and Cambodia, but they have also remained largely silent about abuses in oil-producing countries of the Middle East.

Instead, as the decades unfold, it would appear that the oil producers will be forging links with oil-hungry places such as China, whose own respect for human rights mirrors their own. No longer needing Middle East oil will likely cause the U.S. to lose a little of its interest in the region, although the resolute defence of Israel, right or wrong, and concerns about terrorism will keep the U.S. involved.

As for climate change, countries negotiating under the aegis of the United Nations agreed to aim for a maximum increase of two degrees Celsius in global temperatures. Anything more, they understood, would lead to serious disruptions in climate patterns beyond those already experienced.

Instead, the IEA predicts that even if the oil consumption of OECD countries barely rises, global demand for energy will rise by a third by 2035, with China, India and the Middle East accounting for about 60 per cent of that increase. The resulting emissions will drive the long-term average global temperature increase to 3.6 degrees Celsius.

''The climate goal of limiting warming to two degrees Celsius is becoming more difficult and more costly with each year that passes,'' observed the IEA. Most ominously, four-fifths of all carbon emissions that are supposed to be allowed by 2035 to keep warming below two degrees Celsius are already locked into power plants, factories and buildings. If strong action is not taken by 2017, all the emissions necessary to keep warming below that level will be locked in.

As Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA, said a while ago: ''We are seeing the door for a two degree Celsius target about to be closed and closed forever.''

One helpful step would be to expand carbon capture and storage (CCS) operations at coal-fired plants. CCS operations, however, are costly and uncertain. Four were planned for Alberta, for example, but one has already been cancelled. The others are dependent on large government subsidies at a very high per-tonne cost.

A price on carbon, set either by a tax or a cap-and-trade system, is the best tool for reducing emissions (as The Economist noted yet again this week). North America (except British Columbia and Alberta, with its intensity tax) refuses to move in that direction. And many countries, especially in the Middle East, heavily subsidize oil consumption.

The next time someone grouses about subsidies for renewables, remind them that, according to the IEA, worldwide fossil fuel subsidies in 2011 were $523-billion '' six times more than for renewable energy supplies.

Link'...

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/the-end-of-the-oil-world-as-we-know-it/article5498899/?cmpid=rss1

C.I.A. Closes Its Climate Change Office - NYTimes.com

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Wed, 21 Nov 2012 04:00

The Central Intelligence Agency has disbanded its Center on Climate Change and National Security, a unit formed in 2009 to monitor the interplay between a warming planet and intelligence and security challenges.

The creation of the office drew fire at the time from some Republicans, who said it was an unnecessary expense and a distraction from the agency's focus on terrorism and other more immediate threats. The agency did not say whether the closing was related to budget constraints or other political pressures.

Todd Ebitz, a C.I.A. spokesman, said that the agency would continue to monitor the security and humanitarian challenges posed by climate change as part of its focus on economic security, but not in a stand-alone office.''The C.I.A. for several years has studied the national security implications of climate change,'' Mr. Ebitz said in an e-mailed statement. ''As part of a broader realignment of analytic resources, this work continues to be performed by a dedicated team in a new office that looks at economic and energy matters affecting America's national security. The mission and the resources devoted to it remain essentially unchanged.''

The closing of the office was first reported Monday by Greenwire.

The C.I.A. did not conduct its own scientific studies on climate change, instead relying on other government agencies and academic researchers. The National Research Council, an arm of the National Academies of Science, released an extensive report to the intelligence community last week on how it can better assess and respond to the impacts of climate change on vulnerable states.

Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, has been the most vocal critic of the C.I.A.'s climate change work. He welcomed the closing of its office.

''Closing the Climate Change Center at the C.I.A. was the right decision,'' Mr. Barrasso said in a statement. ''I offered an amendment on the Senate floor to eliminate the center because it was unnecessary, wasteful and totally out of place. It's critically important for the C.I.A. to focus its resources on preventing terrorism and keeping Americans safe.''

Greenhouse gases hit record high

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Source: ccampeador

Tue, 20 Nov 2012 14:32

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere hit a new record high in 2011, the World Meteorological Organization has said.

In its annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin released on Tuesday, the organisation said that carbon dioxide levels reached 391 parts per million in 2011.

The report estimates that carbon dioxide accounts for 85% of the ''radiative forcing'' that leads to global temperature rises.

Other potent greenhouse gases such as methane also reached record highs.

The carbon dioxide levels appear to have been rising at a level of two parts per million each year for the last 10 years '' with the latest measure being 40% higher than those at the start of the industrial revolution.

The WMO estimates that 375 billion tonnes of carbon have been released into the atmosphere since 1750, and that about half of that amount is still present in the atmosphere.

''These billions of tonnes of additional carbon dioxide in our atmosphere will remain there for centuries, causing our planet to warm further and impacting on all aspects of life on Earth,'' said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

''Future emissions will only compound the situation.''

US weather agency the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) contributed to the bulletin with their Annual Greenhouse Gas Index, which indicated that between 1990 and 2011, carbon dioxide's role in the radiative forcing that leads to warming had increased by 30%.

Levels of methane, a more potent greenhouse gas, hit a new record at 1,813 parts per billion '' more than two-and-a-half times the pre-industrial level.

Concentrations of nitrous oxide, estimated to be nearly 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, rose slightly to a record 324 parts per billion.

Mr Jarraud pointed out that until now, ''carbon sinks'' such as the oceans had reclaimed half of all atmospheric carbon dioxide, but that pattern would not necessarily continue.

''We have already seen that the oceans are becoming more acidic as a result of the carbon dioxide uptake, with potential repercussions for the underwater food chain and coral reefs,'' he said.

''There are many additional interactions between greenhouse gases, Earth's biosphere and oceans, and we need to boost our monitoring capability and scientific knowledge in order to better understand these.''

Link'...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20410942

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Ministry of Truth

New York Times Acknowledges Conspiracy of Silence Over ''Fiscal Cliff'' | NYTimes eXaminer

Link to Article

Source: Dave Winer's linkblog feed

Tue, 20 Nov 2012 14:17

November 20, 2012 · 0 Comments

Source: WSWS

By Andre Damon:

In an article published Thursday, the New York Times starts off with an extraordinary admission'--that during the elections the Democrats and Republicans colluded to cover-up planned cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs that they were both planning to make after the elections.

With characteristic cynicism, the Times makes this point as a virtual aside within an article providing details on the so-called ''fiscal cliff,'' the set of scheduled tax hikes and spending cuts being utilized to push through the unpopular cuts.

In the article, ''Demystifying the Fiscal Impasse That Is Vexing Washington,'' the Times asks, rhetorically: ''Many Americans must be wondering: What is all this about a 'fiscal cliff?' And why did it receive so little attention during the presidential campaign?''

The answer follows: ''Well, it's complicated'--the so-called cliff, that is. And most solutions are politically painful. In a rare show of bipartisanship, or mutual protection, both parties ducked the debate until after the election.''

This claim amounts to an admission that both candidates conspired against the American people to prevent any discussion of what Obama has called his ''first order of business.'' This is because the plans are ''politically painful'''--i.e., overwhelmingly opposed by the population.

What does this say about American democracy and the political and media establishment of which the Times is a part? The elections are supposedly the one time in which the population has the ability to vote on the future course of government policy. Yet not only do the two parties agree on all essentials, but they deliberately seek to avoid any discussion on their actual plans.

Moreover, it points to the bipartisan drive to give entitlement cuts, long regarded as the ''third rail'' of American politics, an aura of inevitability.

After asserting that both parties ''ducked'' the issue of the austerity measures in the election, the article outlines how, in the years before the vote, the Democrats and Republicans set the stage for slashing social spending by constructing the ''fiscal cliff.''

''Since Ronald Reagan's administration, with mixed results, presidents and Congresses have occasionally mandated a self-imposed future crisis to force themselves to agree on unpopular tax and spending actions. In that spirit, the idea behind the August 2011 deal was that Republicans would so greatly fear the military cuts, and Democrats the domestic spending cuts, that they would negotiate a deficit-reduction alternative by the Jan. 1 deadline.''

The article goes on to note, ''Such an agreement would set specific targets for new tax revenue and spending cuts to reduce deficits by about $4 trillion over a decade, giving Congress and the president more time to work out the details. If they failed to do so, presumably other automatic changes might be in store as an enforcement action '-- setting up yet another looming deadline.''

These statements confirm entirely the warnings made by the World Socialist Web Site and Socialist Equality Party candidates Jerry White and Phyllis Scherrer. The WSWS and SEP repeatedly stressed in statements and speeches that the candidates' refusal to discuss the plans to slash trillions of dollars in spending amounted to a ''conspiracy of silence.''

A resolution first passed at the Socialist Equality Party's election conference in Los Angeles on October 27, characterized the bipartisan plans as follows:

''The plans of the ruling class for after the elections are being concealed from the American people. The next administration, whether led by a Democrat or a Republican, is planning huge cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, public education and other social programs.''

The accuracy with which the WSWS characterized the post-election plans of the ruling class is yet another demonstration that the political establishment, including the media, has as its aim the suppression of the popular will and the imposition of anti-democratic and socially regressive policies for the enrichment of the wealthy few. All questions of consequence are decided behind the backs of the people, then sold to the population by the media and imposed by the politicians.

By admin

Two news anchors stun viewers by quitting local Fox affiliate station live on air after clashes with senior management over unbalanced political news items | Mail Online

Link to Article

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 17:58

Co-anchors Cindy Michaels and Tony Consiglio told no one about their decision prior to Tuesday's broadcastThe pair had become frustrated over senior management's attempts to influence their 'balanced journalistic approach' - particularly in relation to politicsMichaels gained notoriety during the 2008 presidential election due to her then resemblance to Sarah Palin, which she described as 'an honor'By David Mccormack

PUBLISHED: 10:07 EST, 21 November 2012 | UPDATED: 12:50 EST, 21 November 2012

Two news anchors at a Fox affiliate station in Bangor, Maine have sensationally quit live on-air, citing a longstanding battle with senior management over journalistic practices.

Co-anchors Cindy Michaels, 46, and Tony Consiglio, 28, shocked both staff and viewers by announcing their resignations at the end of Tuesday's 6 p.m. broadcast.

Michaels, who was also the station's news director, said she had grown frustrated with senior management's influence and desire for 'somewhat unbalanced news,' particularly in relation to politics.

Scroll down for video

Co-anchors Tony Consiglio and Cindy Michaels shocked staff and viewers by announcing their resignations at the end of Tuesday's 6 p.m. Fox Bangor News broadcast

VIDEO: Fed up news anchors quit on live TV

'There was a constant disrespecting and belittling of staff and we both felt there was a lack of knowledge from ownership and upper management in running a newsroom to the extent that I was not allowed to structure and direct them professionally,' Michaels told BangorDailyNews.com.

Michaels, who joined the station in 2006, said a balanced journalistic approach was often frowned upon, although she wasn't specific about what political leaning senior management had expected the reporters to adopt.

'I couldn't do everything I wanted to as a news director. There was a regular undoing of decisions,' she said.

Both Michaels and Consiglio said the idea to resign was something they had talked about for some time and so felt was right to make as a joint decision.

'I just wanted to know that I was doing the best job I could and was being honest and ethical as a journalist, and I thought there were times when I wasn't able to do that,' said Consiglio, who joined the station in 2006 as a sports reporter before becoming a news anchor the next year.

Neither presenter told anyone of their decision prior to Tuesday's broadcast for fear they wouldn't be given the opportunity to say goodbye to viewers.

We quit: Consiglio, second left, and Michaels, third left, claim bosses at Fox Bangor News forced them to report 'unbalanced' political news items

Cindy Michaels gained notoriety during the 2008 presidential election due to her striking resemblance to Sarah Palin, left

WFVX-LP is the Fox affiliate for Central and Eastern Maine and is licensed to serve Bangor.

The station's general manager Mike Palmer described the on air resignations as 'unfortunate, but not unexpected' and denied that senior management gets involved in the daily production of news.

He claimed the station is bucking the industry trend toward downsizing and has added 10 full-time jobs over the past 18 months.

Michaels gained notoriety during the 2008 presidential election due to her striking resemblance to Sarah Palin, then the Republican nominee for Vice President.

Fox News ran a news item about how Michaels received hate mail and nasty phone calls from viewers, she described being compared to Palin as 'an honor.'

Both reporters said they don't have anything lined up in terms of new jobs in the media, although Michaels has started freelance writing.

Video: Sarah Palin lookalike Fox anchor Cindy Michaels

BBC News - South Pacific Sandy Island 'proven not to exist'

Link to Article

Thu, 22 Nov 2012 13:37

22 November 2012Last updated at05:57 ETA South Pacific island, shown on marine charts and world maps as well as on Google Earth and Google Maps, does not exist, Australian scientists say.

The supposedly sizeable strip of land, named Sandy Island on Google maps, was positioned midway between Australia and French-governed New Caledonia.

But when scientists from the University of Sydney went to the area, they found only the blue ocean of the Coral Sea.

The phantom island has featured in publications for at least a decade.

Scientist Maria Seton, who was on the ship, said that the team was expecting land, not 1,400m (4,620ft) of deep ocean.

"We wanted to check it out because the navigation charts on board the ship showed a water depth of 1,400m in that area - very deep," Dr Seton, from the University of Sydney, told the AFP news agency after the 25-day voyage.

"It's on Google Earth and other maps so we went to check and there was no island. We're really puzzled. It's quite bizarre.

"How did it find its way onto the maps? We just don't know, but we plan to follow up and find out."

Australian newspapers have reported that the invisible island would sit within French territorial waters if it existed - but does not feature on French government maps.

Australia's Hydrographic Service, which produces the country's nautical charts, says its appearance on some scientific maps and Google Earth could just be the result of human error, repeated down the years.

A spokesman from the service told Australian newspapers that while some map makers intentionally include phantom streets to prevent copyright infringements, that was was not usually the case with nautical charts because it would reduce confidence in them.

A spokesman for Google said they consult a variety of authoritative sources when making their maps.

"The world is a constantly changing place, the Google spokesman told AFP, "and keeping on top of these changes is a never-ending endeavour'.'

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy in Sydney says that while most explorers dream of discovering uncharted territory, the Australian team appears to have done the opposite - and cartographers everywhere are now rushing to undiscover Sandy Island for ever.

BBC appoints Tony Hall as new director general | Media | guardian.co.uk

Link to Article

Thu, 22 Nov 2012 13:27

Tony Hall, chief executive of the Royal Opera House, is to be the next BBC director general. Photograph: Luke Macgregor/Reuters

Royal Opera House chief executive Tony Hall has been appointed as director general of the BBC, just a week-and-a-half after the hapless George Entwistle resigned from the job '' in a secret, emergency process aimed at restoring stability to the crisis hit broadcaster. Hall is due to take up his post in early March 2013 when acting director general Tim Davie steps down.

Lord Patten, writing to BBC staff on Thursday to announce the appointment, said that Hall '' Lord Hall of Birkenhead, was "the right person to lead the BBC out of its current crisis and help rebuild public trust in the organisation" '' after an extraordinary period in which the broadcaster has been enveloped by criticism over the handling of the Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal.

Hall, 61, was director of BBC news, and was a candidate for the top job in 1999 when Greg Dyke secured the position. He went off to run the Royal Opera House for 11 years, taking over an organisation that was itself in crisis. Under his tenure, the Opera House tried to shed off its elitist image, by hosting televised public performances outdoors in Trafalgar Square and elsewhere.

Patten said that Hall was "an insider and is currently an outsider. As an ex-BBC man he understands how the corporation's culture and behaviour make it, at its best, the greatest broadcaster in the world.

"And from his vantage point outside the BBC, he understands the criticisms that are levelled at the corporation '' both those that are justified and those that are not. But perhaps most importantly, given where we now find ourselves, his experience as a former BBC journalist will prove invaluable as the BBC looks to rebuild its reputation in this area."

He will be paid £450,000 a year '' the same as his predecessor, but substantially below the sums paid to Mark Thompson, who left the BBC in September.

The BBC Trust said it took the unusual approach of making a direct approach from to Hall and he accepted without the broadcaster speaking to anybody else. Hall did not apply for the job when it last became vacant as a result of Mark Thompson's departure earlier this year '' partly because at 61 he felt he was too old.

Patten said that the accelerated recruitment process was justified in the interests of licence fee payers, with the chairman noting that "Tony Hall wasn't available" when Entwistle was appointed in July.

Alan Yentob, the BBC's creative director, said that he believed that Hall was "the right man to run the BBC" given that he has both experience of the organisation and spent "10 years outside the BBC". At 61, Yentob said that he believed that Hall had "the judgment and wisdom" to run the BBC '' and that his age was not a barrier to running an organisation despite the intense pressures that saw off Entwistle.

Hall has run the Opera House since April 2001 but had been telling close friends he was looking for a change '' while maintaining in public that he was "happy in his job" as speculation about his name swirled.

"It's been a difficult few weeks '' but together we'll get through it. I'm committed to ensuring our news services are the best in the world. I'm committed to making this a place where creative people, the best and the brightest, want to work," he said.

"And I know from my first days here as a news trainee, to my time as head of news and current affairs, to my time now at the Royal Opera House, that I can't do it on my own. Having the right teams working together, sparking off each other, is key."

The BBC said that Hall is already in receipt of a corporation pension after more nearly 30 years' service and will not benefit from any extra pension payments as director general.

Egon Zehnder, which was paid about £200,000 for advising the BBC on the disastrous appointment of Entwistle, helped out for free on this occasion.

Hall was born in Birkenhead and studied philosophy, politics and economics at Keble College, Oxford. He joined the BBC as a news trainee in 1973 and worked on a wide range of TV and radio news programmes, before being made editor of the BBC1 Nine O'Clock News in 1985.

Two years later he was appointed editor of news and current affairs, the first time the role had been combined, as part of then deputy director general John Birt's at the time controversial reorganisation of the BBC's news division.

Hall became director of news and current affairs in 1990 and was regarded as one of Birt's key lieutenants after he became director general in 1992.

He ran BBC News for more than a decade before leaving the corporation for the Royal Opera House in 2001, overseeing the launch of BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC News 24 and BBC News Online.

' To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email editor@mediaguardian.co.uk or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000. If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly "for publication".

' To get the latest media news to your desktop or mobile, follow MediaGuardian on Twitter and Facebook.

CNN's Cooper Retracts Video of Palestinian Faking Injury

Link to Article

Source: MRCTV - News & Politics

Mon, 19 Nov 2012 14:42

MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them -- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.

MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 325 South Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.

Copyright (C) 2012, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.

Elite$

Dutch Prince in coma shows "minimal consciousness"

Link to Article

Source: usfollowme

Tue, 20 Nov 2012 08:11

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-11/19/c_131985303.htm

Bank$ters

Treasury Secretary Geithner: Lift Debt Limit to Infinity

Link to Article

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 14:52

(CNSNews.com) - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Friday that Congress should stop placing legal limits on the amount of money the government can borrow and effectively lift the debt limit to infinity.

On Bloomberg TV, ''Political Capital'' host Al Hunt asked Geithner if he believes ''we ought to just eliminate the debt ceiling.''

''Oh, absolutely,'' Geithner said.

''You do? Will you propose that?'' Hunt asked.

''Well, this is something only Congress can solve,'' Geithner said. ''Congress put it on itself. We've had 100 years of experience with it, and I think only once--last summer--did people decide to use it to threaten default on the American credit for the first time in history as a tool for political advantage. And that's not a tenable strategy.''

Hunt then asked: ''Is now the time to eliminate it?''

''It would have been time a long time ago to eliminate it,'' Geithner said. ''The sooner the better.''

Geithner's Treasury Department quietly warned at the end of October that the Treasury would reach current legal limit on the federal government's debt by about the end of the year.

In August 2011, President Barack Obama and Congress agreed to lift the legal debt limit by another $2.4 trillion--allowing the government to borrow up to $16.394 trillion. However, as of the close of business on Thursday, the Treasury had only $154.3 billion of that $2.4 trillion in new borrowing authority left.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said last week that the Senate stands ready to increase the debt limit by another $2.4 trillion. ''If it has to be raised, we'll raise it,'' Reid said.

[cns-donate]

SEC Rocked By Lurid Sex-and-Corruption Lawsuit | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone

Link to Article

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 17:35

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Move over, adulterous generals. It might be time to make way for a new sexual rats'nest '' at America's top financial police agency, the SEC.

In a salacious 77-page complaint that reads like Penthouse Forum meets The Insider meets the Keystone Kops, one David Weber, the former chief investigator for the SEC Inspector General's office, accuses the SEC of retaliating against Weber for coming forward as a whistleblower. According to this lawsuit, Weber was made a target of intramural intrigues at the agency (which has a history of such retaliation) after he came forward with concerns that his bosses may have been spending more time copulating than they were investigating the SEC.

Weber vs. the SEC: The Full Complaint

Weber claims that in recent years, while the SEC Inspector General's office has been attempting to investigate the agency's seemingly-negligent responses in such matters as the Bernie Madoff case and the less-well-known (but nearly as disturbing) Stanford Financial Ponzi scandal, two of the IG office's senior officials '' former Inspector General David Kotz and his successor, Noelle Maloney '' were sleeping together.

Weber also claims that Kotz was also having an affair with a lawyer representing a key group of Stanford victims, a Dr. Gaytri Kachroo. Where the story gets really strange is where Weber claims that Maloney last year refused to meet with Kachroo as part of the Stanford investigation. By then, Kotz had stepped down as SEC IG and Maloney had replaced him as Acting IG. The complaint describes Weber confronting Maloney over the issue, asking why she wouldn't meet with the lawyer representing a key group of Stanford victims.

Maloney asked Weber to close the door to her office. Maloney told Weber that she would deny the following conversation if Weber were to repeat it.

Maloney then said that, "David [Kotz] was fucking that lady . . ." Maloney stated that Kachroo had received special treatment. Maloney even questioned whether the OIG would have ever opened an investigation into the SEC's oversight over the Court-Appointed Receivership in SEC v. Stanford.

The Weber lawsuit is the latest chapter in an ongoing drama that began when Kotz stepped down last January amid not-world-shaking ethics questions (including, of all things, receiving Philadelphia Eagles tickets from a financial adviser). Subsequently, however, an investigation by the U.S. Postal Service Inspector General David Williams concluded more seriously that Kotz violated rules by overseeing investigations involving people with whom he had "personal relationships."

Weber's complaints, made early last year, were apparently the impetus for that Williams investigation. If what happened to Weber subsequently was retaliation, it didn't take long. Weber was placed on leave in May after being accused of being a "personal threat" who wanted to bring a gun into the office. The "gun" incident was highly publicized, and Weber was ridiculed in the media (sample from the Atlantic Wire: "Do You Really Need a Gun to Police the SEC?").

Weber was fired on October 31st. Apparently he has decided not to take the firing quietly. "When David Weber began to uncover the depth of dysfunction at the SEC, they fired him," his attorney Cary Hansel said. "He has no intention of being silenced by threats and false allegations."

The filing of this lawsuit now by Weber officially begins the raging clusterfuck portion of the story, as he and his lawyers are releasing lurid details not only about Kotz and Maloney, but about a host of other SEC and SEC IG officials. It's very strong stuff: the only things missing from this lawsuit are tales of SEC officials running white-slavery rings and snorting brown-brown off the corpses of strippers with West African rebels.

There are, for instance, allegations that officials handed out SEC contracts to buddies at influential Beltway consulting firms, claims that sexual harassment cases were covered up and accusations that the SEC failed to properly screen contractors who were given full access to SEC databases (it cites an example of one contractor who was on early parole from a 10-year narcotics bid in Virginia). The suit also alleges that the SEC security chief, William Fagan, "watched the video feed from security cameras outside of the [Inspector General's] suite, in order to determine the identities of . . . potential whistleblowers."

Perhaps most crazily, however, the suit alleges major security violations. In one section, Weber claims that SEC investigators took sensitive, highly-protected system data from financial exchanges like the NYSE '' systems so carefully protected that they have to be "air gapped," i.e. not connected to the internet '' and loaded them on unencrypted laptops before flying to Vegas to attend a "Black Hat" convention for security specialists and hackers. From the suit:

Many government and law enforcement officials who attend the "Black Hat" conference register under aliases, keeping their identities and employers secret. However, the SEC staff who attended, with unencrypted laptops containing sensitive exchange information, registered under their own names and identified their employer. Walking around this convention with a name tag and, regardless of name tag, registered as an SEC IT information security examiner, is the equivalent of wearing a giant target on one's back.

Reassuring!

It's hard to say how all of this will shake out. Certainly, from a P.R. standpoint, it'll be ugly for the SEC. One other storyline to follow: If the Weber retaliation claims are true, they fall within an ongoing and increasingly disturbing pattern of federal whistleblowers who have come forward and experienced reprisals themselves instead of having their claims investigated properly.

Another story to follow is the possibility that the SEC Inspector General's office in recent years was weakened or compromised by these sexual scandals in any way. If all this kink was common knowledge within the agency, it is not hard to imagine that OIG investigations into things like the Madoff mess might have had their momentum slowed by internal politics.

Anyway, crazy stuff, more to come down the line. SEC spokesman John Nester by the way had no comment on the story today, except to say: "We look forward to filing our response with the court."

SEC: Rife With Sex, Lies and Mismanagement | Crooks and Liars

Link to Article

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 17:35

Via Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone, an utterly pathetic tale of abused power, mismanagement, mishandled cases, and incredibly sloppy IT procedures.In a salacious 77-page complaint that reads like Penthouse Forum meets The Insider meets the Keystone Kops, one David Weber, the former chief investigator for the SEC Inspector General's office, accuses the SEC of retaliating against Weber for coming forward as a whistleblower. According to this lawsuit, Weber was made a target of intramural intrigues at the agency (which has a history of such retaliation) after he came forward with concerns that his bosses may have been spending more time copulating than they were investigating the SEC.

I spent some time reading the complaint and it's as bad as Taibbi describes. Unfair firing aside, this allegation was particularly frightening:

145. In the OIG inquiry into the alleged misuse of computer equipment, Weber and his investigators found that the laptops which were used by SEC examiners during these examinations, and on which all the information from the examinations were stored, neither contained virus protection, encryption programs, or firewalls, nor were they ever wiped clean after testing. Some of the computers at issue were used in every stock exchange in the United States, and therefore exposed exchanges to infections or compromises that could be brought from exchange to exchange. This was in complete violation of SEC and government-wide IT security standards for governmental computer equipment, and in direct contradictions to the oral and written representations the SEC made to regulated exchanges in accessing exchange computer and IT systems.

146. Much to his dismay, Weber then discovered that some of these laptops were brought to foreign countries by SEC management, and by certain SEC management and employees to the ''Black Hat'' Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. The ''Black Hat'' Conference is an annual convention for computer hackers and security experts. Attendees to these conferences have included hackers, representatives from corporations, federal agencies, and foreign intelligence agencies

But they weren't paying attention to what data infections they might be courting, because they were too busy engaging in extracurricular activities. Like, for example, this incident which appears to have begun the ball rolling toward Weber's termination:

36. Maloney asked Weber to close the door to her office. Maloney told Weber that she would deny the following conversation if Weber were to repeat it.

37. Maloney then said that, ''David [Kotz] was f*cking that lady.'' Weber expressed shock and dismay. Maloney told Weber to ''watch out'' for Kachroo and to be careful when he met with her.

38. Maloney stated that Kachroo had received special treatment. Maloney even questioned whether the OIG would have ever opened an investigation into the SEC's oversight over the Court-Appointed Receivership in SEC v. Stanford.

Awesome. There's much, much more, like the text messages being sent in the middle of legal proceedings.

40. Weber suggested to Maloney that Kotz was possibly ''pulling her leg.'' Maloney then stated that Kotz had shown her text messages he had received from Kachroo. Maloney said that Kotz had even shown her text messages that Kachroo had sent to him during Kachroo's oral testimony to the OIG, as part of the Stanford Receivership Investigation, on December 11, 2011. Maloney said that one of the text messages she saw had said something to the effect that Kachroo could not bear to be giving testimony from across the table without being able to touch and kiss Kotz during her testimony.

Fal$e Flag

INNOCENT PATSY HANGED

Link to Article

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 14:35

Kasab - innocent patsy.Ajmal Kasab, the innocent patsy framed for the Mumbai Attacks of 2008,has been hanged.The Mumbai Attacks were designed to get India and Pakistan into a war.The Mumbai attacks were organised by an American, David Headley, who worked for the US government, presumably as a CIA asset or agent.There is evidence of involvement by Israelis and officials of the Indian and Pakistan governments.HEADLEY'S JEWISH LINKS

Not Ajmal Kasab.1. We were told that 8 gunmen were arrested and then we were told that only Ajmal Kasab was arrested.

''The Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh told Associated Press that two British-born Pakistanis were among the eight gunmen arrested by Indian authorities.'' Many British Pakistanis reportedly work for MI6.The reports about Kasab are contradictory and confusing.2. We are told that the gunmen at the railway station and elsewhere were white men and yet Ajmal Amir is reportedly from Pakistan. There are reports that one of his fellow gunmen was arrested at Cana Hospital and reports suggesting that nobody was arrested there.(According to the BBC: "2120-2200: Gunmen raid the Cama and Albless Hospital ... One attacker is captured here."

(BBC NEWS South Asia Timeline: Mumbai under attack)

5. There were reports that Kasab speaks fluent English and reports that he is rather illiterate and poorly educated.

According to the BBC, "Indian officials originally portrayed him as a middle-class boy who spoke good English."But subsequent reports suggested he came from a remote village called Faridkot, where his father sold food."He had received little education, the reports said, and had spent his youth alternating between labouring and petty crime." According to "Who Killed Karkare? The Real Face Of Terrorism In India" by M Zeyaul Haque, former Maharashtra Inspector General of Police , some of the terrorists are Hindus with links to the government of India. Karkare had discovered the Hindu links to terrorism in India.6. We are told that the gunmen who shot Anti Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare spoke Marathi (Not from Pakistan) and then we are told that it was Pakistani Ajmal Amir and his Pakistani friend who shot Karkare.The Marathi daily 'Maharashtra Times' said the terrorists who targeted Anti Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare were speaking Marathi fluently. (i.e. they were not from Pakistan) Reportedly, traditional Jews from Mumbai, who have migrated to Israel, speak fluent Marathi and are known to have been recruited by Mossad.7. There are reports that one gunman was arrested at Cama Hospital and reports suggesting that nobody was arrested there.(According to the BBC: "2120-2200: Gunmen raid the Cama and Albless Hospital ... One attacker is captured here." - BBC NEWS South Asia Timeline: Mumbai under attack)

Mumbai suspect Ajmal Kasab claimed he was framed by the Israelis.And by India's secret service (RAW).

Ajmal Kasab alleged that the TV footage recorded by a Pakistani channel GeoTV (which was shown in the special court) "was made at the behest of RAW and Israeli officials."

Kasab said he learnt this from crime branch officials.

(Kasab now claims RAW accused him of spying)

On 25 December 2010, The Washington Post reported that Mumbai suspect Ajmal Kasab "told the judge he came to Mumbai as a tourist and was arrested 20 days before the siege began.

"On the day the attacks started, Kasab said police took him from his cell because he resembled one of the gunmen.

"They then shot him to make it look as if he had been involved in the attacks and re-arrested him..."

(Mumbai gunman demands trial by international court )

Ajmal Kasab claimed that the the Indian secret service, RAW, took him into custody on 6 November 2008, and later handed him over to the Mumbai police.

The Mumbai attacks were on 26 November 2008. (Kasab claims RAW custody )

Kasab said he arrived from Pakistan by the Samjhauta Express and travelled to Mumbai as a tourist 20 days before the November 26, 2008, assault.He said he was detained while strolling on Juhu beach and falsely implicated in the 26/11 case as he had facial similarities with one of the Mumbai attackers.

The 22-year-old Kasab told the court: "I would like to consult the Pakistani authorities," including passport officials.

The judge rejected Kasab's plea for trial by an international court.

(Kasab now claims RAW accused him of spying)

Reportedly, India's spy service RAW, copying Israel's Mossad, kidnaps people in order to create patsies.

"The Daily Mail's investigations indicate that RAW, for the past many years is following the policies of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad...

"Mossad has managed to create many fake terrorists out of the innocent Palestinians and made them to confess the crimes they never committed.

"The Daily Mail's finding indicate that these tactic were adopted by RAW in the late 90s and suddenly the number of Pakistanis, arrested in India with terror charges started increasing dramatically by the late 90s while Ajmal Kasab being the latest in the series." (The Daily Mail - from Pakistan)

More dead patsies in Mumbai.Ajmal Kasab said that the American David Headley, who is alleged to be a CIA agent, interrogated him, with four whitemen, in his cell at the Mumbai police custody after he was captured. (Mumbai attacker Kasab retracts confession, claims meeting US terror suspect)

Kasab claimed he was interrogated by FBI officials and that David Headley was one of them.

(26/11 trial: Kasab was interrogated by Headley )

According to Ajmal Kasab, "The police have killed the main accused, who resembles me, and they told me that his name was Abu Ali."

"I am his look alike. His height and face resembles mine," Kasab said.

(Kasav's U-turn, retracts 26/11 statement )

The Guardian has reported on the framing of innocent people in India.In 2008, in The Guardian, we read:"It was after the 2001 parliament attack that the first serious questions began to be raised.

"A campaign by a group of lawyers and activists exposed how innocent people had been framed by the police and the press, how evidence was fabricated, how witnesses lied, how due process had been criminally violated at every stage of the investigation."(Arundhati Roy: Mumbai .)

Triple Canopy has experience managing cases in India, Nigeria and Somalia. (Experience Triple Canopy )In the Mumbai attacks of 2008, eyewitnesses said some of the attackers "included Nigerian or Somali mercenaries."

(Bloodbath in Mumbai - dnaindia.com)"It appears that the Obama administration has decided on its hired guns of choice: Triple Canopy, a Chicago company...

"Triple Canopy has ... a record of hiring mercenaries from countries with atrocious human rights records..."

Not KasabAccording to The Hindu, 16 January 2010, (Headley attended Lashkar training camps in Pakistan):

Starting November 26, 2008, and continuing for the next two days, attackers carried out assaults against multiple targets in Mumbai, each of which David Headley allegedly had scouted in advance.

Headley befriended Indian celebrity Rahul Bhatt.

According to Bhatt, Headley claimed to have done a stint with the US army.

Headley told Bhatt about the US military's Delta Force and the CIA's top-secret force called Special Activities Division which carries out covert political action and paramilitary operations.

(IndiaDaily - Rahul Bhatt hints Headley may be a dual CIA-ISI agent ...)

Headley was operating from a Training Gym extremely close to the US Consulate at Bridge Candy.

(Mahesh Bhatt & the Headley affair )

"He was also very friendly with the personnel at the US consulate and was on a first name basis with a number of US Consulate officials that he met at the gym."

(Mahesh Bhatt & the Headley affair )

Headley of the CIA?David Headley is from Chicago.

Two of the Americans reportedly killed during the Mumbai attacks have links to Chicago.

These are Ben Zion Chroman or Kruman (his father is from Chicago)Sandeep Jeswani (An American of Indian origin. He is from Chicago; killed at the Oberoi)

A federal grand jury indictment in Chicago says that in 2002 and 2003, Headley attended training camps in Pakistan, and conspired with Abdur Rehman, in planning and executing the attacks in India.

Major (retired) Abdur Rehman?

Military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas told The Hindu that there was as yet no formal communication from the U.S. about his indictment, nor any requests for questioning him.

According to Wayne Madsen (Blackwater/XE behind terrorist bombings in Asia and Africa?) There is a secret Blackwater-XE/CIA/Joint Special Operations Command forward operating base in Karachi.

Osho Bhagwan Shree RajneeshMumbai suspect David Headley visited the Osho Ashram in Pune twice during 2008 and 2009.

(set up in Pune.)When Osho Rajneesh died in Pune in 1990, rumours spread that he had been poisoned by the CIA.

NOT KASABOn 22 January 2010, it was reported that Ajmal Kasab said that the Mumbai police, and the FBI, made up all the evidence: Kasab

According to Kasab, the Mumbai police Crime Branch, who had the help of the FBI, fabricated the evidence against him.

This faked evidence included the FBI's alleged retrieval of data from a global positioning system.

Does the FBI fake evidence? (aangirfan: Lockerbie Evidence )

War on Ca$h

Why the share of $100 bills in circulation has been going up for over 40 years '' Quartz

Link to Article

Source: Dave Winer's linkblog feed

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 14:29

Nearly 80% of all US currency in circulation is denominated in $100 bills. (As of June 30, 77%.)

Seems somewhat strange doesn't it? After all, we find remarkably few of our pockets jammed with those pesky C-notes.

And it's not just us. Economists acknowledge that at face value, the proliferation of hundreds doesn't seem to make sense. Writing about the growth of the cash supply as well as the preponderance of $100-dollar bills back in 2010, economist Edgar Feige wrote that the numbers:

''Imply that the average American's bulging wallet holds 91 pieces of U.S. paper currency, consisting of: 31 one dollar bills; 7 fives; 5 tens; 21 twenties; 4 fifties and 23 one hundred dollar bills. Few of us will recognize ourselves as 'average' citizens. Clearly, these amounts of currency are not normally necessary for those of us simply wishing to make payments when neither credit/debit cards nor checks are accepted or convenient to use.''

The share of greenbacks denominated in $100 bills has been consistently on the rise for decades. Here's a look at data going back to 1990, from the Federal Reserve.

In fact, the trend really seemed to start rolling as far back as the 1970s, according to this chart published in an economics paper by Feige:

That ugly blue line shows the share of currency in $100 bills. The declining trendline in vivid fuchsia, is the share of currency in 10s and 20s.Edgar Feige.

So what the heck is going on here? Inflation may have something to do with it'--there just weren't as many things to buy in 1970 that might require one to slap down a $100 bill'--but that still wouldn't explain why their proportion today has nothing to do with what people see in their wallets.

The short answer is that a lot of money is spending a lot of time outside the United States.

The cognoscenti look at the share of $100 bills as something of a proxy for foreign demand for US currency. An overwhelming majority of the $100 bills come from the Federal Reserve Cash Office in New York City, which handles the bulk of foreign shipments of US currency. A typical shipment is a pallet containing 640,000 such bills, or $64 million, according to a recent Fed paper.

Somewhat surprisingly, it's unclear exactly how much American money is floating around outside the US. Estimates run the gamut. In the 1990s, one high-profile estimate pegged the number at as much as 70%. But more recent estimates hover around 25%-30%.

And while there are plenty of reasons folks outside the US might want to hold dollars, the thinking is that most people are not using these $100 bills to buy milk and bananas. No, most economists seem to believe $100 bills are most often used as stores of value'--almost something like mini-Treasury bills that don't pay any interest. This is especially so in developing countries, where problems with unstable currencies and inflation often mean the purchasing power of local currency gradually'--or not so gradually'--erodes over time.

The bills might circulate as payments in more developed countries, however. Payments for what? Well, that touches on any number of elements of what has been elegantly named ''the informal economy.'' That is, the markets that function without the costs (taxes) and benefits (legal protections) of the state. Feige writes:

US currency is a preferred medium of exchange for facilitating clandestine transactions, and for storing illicit and untaxed wealth. Knowledge of its location and usage is required to estimate the origins and volume of illicit transactions. These include the illegal trade in drugs, arms and human trafficking as well as the amount of 'unreported' income, that is, income not properly reported to the fiscal authorities due to noncompliance with the tax code.

Large bills in outside currencies are indeed known to be a problem. In 2010, UK exchange offices stopped selling '‚¬500 notes, after police officials said 90% of the notes sold in the UK ended up in the hands of organized crime. Doesn't this present something of an ethical quandary for the US, if its largest bills are the currency of choice for criminals outside the US? It would seem so.

Cynics might point out that on the other side of that ethical quandry is fact that printing and selling money abroad is a remarkably profitable little business for the US government. Yes, that's right. Like all governments, Uncle Sam earns a profit, known as seigniorage, on the printing of money. And that profit cuts'--slightly'--the amount the US has to borrow from the public to keep the lights on. Some economists describe foreign holdings of US money as effectively an interest-free loan to the US. Feige writes:

Domestic seigniorage earnings (based on the fraction of U.S. currency held at home) simply represent a redistribution of income from US currency holders to US taxpayers. On the other hand, seigniorage earnings on currency held abroad represent a net transfer of real resources from foreign currency holders to US taxpayers.

Nonetheless, the spread of plastic as a means of payment planetwide seems to be nibbling away at this handy source of revenue. In the 1980s, the US earned a net profit of around $14 billion a year (pdf, p. 35) on seigniorage; by 1999 it was up to $25 billion; by 2010, it was back down to $20 billion. Oh, well'--it was never going to be enough to solve the US deficit anyway.

Vaccine$

Durability of improvement in posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and absence of harmful effects or drug dependency after 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine-assisted psychotherapy: a prospective long-term follow-up study

Link to Article

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 18:03

IntroductionPost-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be a chronic, severely disabling condition causing sustained loss of functionality, accompanied by high rates of medical and psychiatric co-morbidity and risk of suicide (Perkonigg et al., 2000; Breslau, 2001; Kessler et al., 2005; Seal et al., 2010). Existing pharmacological and psychotherapeutic treatments for PTSD are effective for many, but not all sufferers (Brady et al., 2000a; Marshall et al., 2001; Ursano et al., 2004; Foa et al., 2009). Due to the rate of treatment resistance, the need for research into a wider array of more effective treatments is widely recognized (Ursano et al., 2004; Foa et al., 2009; Stein et al., 2009).

Prior to its placement into the most restrictive category of drug regulation in the US and internationally, uncontrolled published reports suggested that the substituted phenethylamine 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), when administered in conjunction with psychotherapy, could yield substantial benefits for those afflicted with a variety of disorders (Greer and Tolbert, 1986). When we published the first randomized controlled trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, our results demonstrated that there were positive effects on PTSD symptom severity by the end of the treatment program (Mithoefer et al., 2011).

MDMA is hypothesized to support and enhance psychotherapy by increasing the subject's access to emotionally-upsetting material, modulating the associated level of arousal and strengthening the therapeutic alliance. MDMA produces unique changes in emotions in humans (Cami et al., 2000; Liechti et al., 2001; Harris et al., 2002; Tancer and Johanson, 2003; Bedi et al., 2010; Studerus et al., 2010; Kirkpatrick et al., 2012) through a complex combination of pharmacological effects. MDMA is not only a monoamine releaser with particularly prominent effects on serotonin (Liechti et al., 2000; Liechti and Vollenweider, 2001; Setola et al., 2003; Farre et al., 2007; Kolbrich et al., 2008), but it also elevates serum oxytocin (Wolff et al., 2006; Dumont et al., 2009), which is a neuropeptide believed to play a role in affiliation and bonding in mammals (Pitman et al., 1993; Bartz and Hollander, 2006; Olff et al., 2010). Brain imaging studies show there is reduced amygdalar activity after MDMA administration (Gamma et al., 2000), plus changes in the response to angry and happy facial expressions (Bedi et al., 2009). Healthy volunteers given MDMA were better able to spot positive facial expressions and found it harder to spot negative ones, when compared with placebo (Hysek et al., 2012). Taken together, these findings suggest that MDMA may enhance the therapeutic alliance by increasing the likelihood of detecting positive expressions and finding them rewarding, while at the same time reducing the chance of excessive reactivity to fleeting or unintended expressions of anger or disapproval (Rauch et al., 2006). These effects may combine to increase the effectiveness of psychotherapy for PTSD, by increasing self-acceptance, promoting interpersonal trust with therapists and catalyzing the effective processing of emotionally-distressing material. Recent investigations also support the potential for MDMA as a treatment for people with PTSD (Bouso et al., 2008; Mithoefer et al., 2011).

Evaluation of longer-term outcomes, though infrequently reported in the psychiatric literature, may contribute significantly to the understanding and treatment of chronic mental illnesses like PTSD and their associated morbidity and disability. For example, long-term follow-up (LTFU) studies could help to formulate treatment guidelines, permit evaluation of the rates of sustained symptom reduction or remission, predict the need for maintenance treatment, permit the assessment of long-term tolerability and help rule out a placebo response (Price et al., 2008).

A number of studies have tracked the course of PTSD over time (Peleg and Shalev, 2006), but the evaluations of treatment effects in clinical trials typically has ended within several months after treatment. Only a minority of psychiatric treatment trials have followed people from one-half year up to four years after their initial treatment, using open-label designs to assess the patients after they completed randomized or blinded studies. So far, pharmacotherapy with sertraline (Davidson et al., 2001; Rapaport et al., 2002) and nefazodone (Hertzberg et al., 2002) show sustained efficacy at LTFU, at one-half and 3''4 years, respectively, given continuous drug treatment over these intervals. An investigation of the treatment effects following a 4-month intensive inpatient program of psychotherapy and supportive treatment for PTSD patients revealed that the reduction in symptoms of PTSD had not persisted at 18 months (Johnson et al., 1996). LTFU studies of psychotherapies such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) (Edmond and Rubin, 2004; Van der Kolk et al., 2007; Zimmermann et al., 2007; Hogberg et al., 2008), as well as cognitive behavioral and psycho-educational treatments (Solomon et al., 2005; Dorrepaal et al., 2010) show that benefits can be maintained. Practice guidelines for the treatment of PTSD accept the need for replication of previous studies, as well as the need for novel treatments, more specifically pharmacological agents that could augment psychotherapy (Benedek et al., 2009).

In order to address the above issues, we added LTFU of the 19 study subjects who received MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, as an amendment to the initial study design. Here we report the results of our extended surveillance of these subjects.

Methods and materialsSubjectsIn the initial study (Mithoefer et al., 2011), 20 subjects with treatment-resistant PTSD (in most cases from sexual abuse or assault) were randomly assigned to psychotherapy with the active drug (n = 12) or with an inactive placebo (psychotherapy-only; n = 8), each administered during two 8-hour sessions scheduled 3''5 weeks apart, accompanied by weekly non-drug sessions. The MDMA-assisted sessions were conducted in a comfor setting, in which participants were encouraged to spend considerable time focused inward without talking, alternated with time spent talking to the therapists. The therapists took a non-directive approach to supporting their subjects in processing trauma-related material. More information concerning the nature of the psychotherapy is found in the Mithoefer et al. (2011) study, as well as in the author's treatment manual (MAPS, 2011).

At the end of this controlled study, the participants who had received the psychotherapy-only treatment were offered open-label MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, using the same schedule of sessions as were used in the controlled study protocol. Of the eight therapy-only subjects, seven accepted and completed the crossover arm of the study, which resulted in 19 of the 20 study subjects receiving the MDMA-assisted psychotherapy treatment. The one therapy-only subject had recovered from PTSD symptoms with psychotherapy alone, and did not participate in the crossover. As allowed by a protocol amendment, the last eight subjects recruited (five in the double-blind stage and three in the crossover stage) also received a third MDMA-assisted psychotherapy session. This protocol change was sought because of tentative clinical impressions by the investigators that a third session would likely enhance the processing of trauma and the integration process that were essential to the treatment.

Subjects were mailed an informed consent form and a letter requesting their participation in the LTFU study. All 20 subjects from the initial study were recruited for LTFU and participated in the data collected herein. Detailed demographic information on the participants, including types of trauma, was published in the original report (Mithoefer et al., 2011).

All 20 subjects completed our LTFU questionnaire, and 17 (14 women/3 men, mean age at enrollment = 42.3 yrs) completed the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) and Impact of Events Scale-Revised (IES-R) as well (Figure 1). Because the purpose of our LTFU was to see if benefits from MDMA-assisted psychotherapy persisted over time, the data from the one subject who never received MDMA was excluded from the data analysis, but is reported below. Results focused on the 19 subjects (16 women/3 men, mean age at enrollment = 41.01) who received MDMA-assisted treatment, 16 of whom had also completed CAPS and IES-R measures.

Figure 1.Study design with number of participants.

There were three subjects who did not complete the measures: one moved and so was lost to follow-up after answering the LTFU questionnaire, but before completing the IES-R or scheduling administration of the CAPS; while the other two declined to repeat these two measures. Of the latter, one subject, who had previously shown the smallest reduction in CAPS score at the 2-month follow-up, was concerned that testing might trigger more symptoms and the other subject, who had responded well during the original study, declined to complete the measures again, citing stressful family matters as the reason for not devoting time nor attention to our current study.

Our study's LTFU ranged from 17''74 months (mean = 45.4; SD = 17.3; n = 17) after the final MDMA session for the CAPS and IES-R administration, and 10''74 months (mean = 40.8; SD = 19.2; n = 20) after completion for the questionnaire. The original protocol and all of the protocol amendments were approved by an independent IRB (Copernicus Group IRB, Research Triangle Park, NC).

Outcome measuresThe CAPS, as in the original trial, remained the primary outcome measure. The CAPS yields a global symptom severity score, as well as a categorical ranking as to whether or not a subject meets DSM-IV-R criteria (American Psychiatric Association, 2000) for PTSD diagnosis (Weathers et al., 2001). The IES-R (Weiss and Marmar, 1996) is a global measure of psychological response to stress that we used as a secondary outcome measure.

We created the LTFU questionnaire for use in LTFU evaluations of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. This questionnaire is designed to specifically capture the perceived benefit or harm of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and changes in any areas not addressed by standard outcome measures, such as changes in relationships or creativity. The questionnaire measured the degree (with an ordinal scale of 1-Slight to 5-Large) and persistence (scale of 1-Small to 5-All) of the perceived benefits and/or harms of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD. Additionally, the questionnaire included items addressing participant beliefs concerning the potential benefit of receiving an additional MDMA-assisted psychotherapy session, any psychiatric treatment after the study (whether psychotherapy or psychiatric medications), and their use of ''ecstasy'' (material represented as containing MDMA) and/or any other illicit psychoactive substances after study participation, plus any perceived changes in cognition after study participation. The participants were invited to write comments relating to their participation in the study. The full questionnaire is available online (MAPS, 2009) as supplemental material.

In conjunction with the questionnaire, subjects were informed in writing that the investigators had obtained a certificate of confidentiality, a document issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services in line with the National Institutes of Health Service Act, that protects research subjects from the legal consequences of providing investigators with sensitive information, such as information on past illegal drug use during the course of research (Health and Human Services, 2011). The participants were not specifically instructed nor requested to abstain from the use of ecstasy or any other drugs after completing the original study.

Study designIn order to test the hypothesis that PTSD symptom improvement was sustained at LTFU, the post-treatment outcome scores at the 2-month follow-up were compared to LTFU outcome scores obtained in the present study, using independent t tests for the continuous global scores, independent Mann-Whitney U tests for the ordinal outcomes, and descriptive statistics for the questionnaire-based measurements.

Study subjects were mailed the LTFU questionnaire and an IES-R, to complete and mail back. Also, they were contacted to schedule administration of the CAPS in person or via phone, administered by the same independent rater who had administered the CAPS to all subjects in the original study. Our participants also completed the NEO-PI-R personality inventory (Costa and Macrae, 1992), but this NEO data will be presented in a separate publication, currently in preparation.

Because of our protocol amendment permitting an additional MDMA-assisted session, 8 subjects received three MDMA sessions and 11 subjects received two MDMA sessions prior to LTFU participation. Analysis of this small, internal pilot comparing the effects of two versus three MDMA-assisted sessions demonstrated that there was no statistical evidence of a difference in the participant's LTFU outcomes (CAPS: tindependent = 0.2; df =14, p =0.83 and IES-R: tindependent = 0.7; df = 14, p= 0.48). Based on this analysis, LTFU scores were compared to the CAPS and IES-R scores obtained two months from the second MDMA-assisted session (2-month scores). These 2-month scores were the final short-term outcome time-point reported in our initial study (Mithoefer, 2011).

DiscussionThe evidence we report in this LTFU study, conducted on the average of nearly 3 ½ years after the prior study's exit date, indicates that there was an enduring, clinically meaningful benefit from MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to PTSD patients.

The fact that 3 of the 19 subjects did not complete the CAPS and IES-R must be taken into consideration in interpreting these data. These three ''CAPS non-completers'' did complete the LTFU Questionnaire, where they reported nearly the degree of benefit and the same degree of persistence of benefit as those who had completed the CAPS. Therefore, it may be the case that up to 89% (17/19) of those who received MDMA had long-term improvement in their PTSD symptoms. However, these three ''CAPS non-completers'' should be assumed to have had higher CAPS scores than the others. An intent-to-treat analysis, that made the assumption that each of these three individuals had relapsed, concluded that 74% (14/19) of these previously treatment-resistant subjects demonstrated meaningful, sustained reductions in their CAPS scores at LTFU.

At LTFU, two of the subjects who completed the CAPS had relapsed, with CAPS scores above the cutoff ('‰¥50) that was the original study entry criterion. In other long-term follow-up investigations of PTSD treatment (listed in the introduction), relapse rates range from 0.05''41%, so this rate is comparable (from a minimum of 11% of the CAPS completers to a maximum of 26%, in the intent-to-treat analysis).

The LTFU questionnaire we developed to assess the participants, while not a validated instrument, did shed light on several important points: the apparent lack of risk of substance abuse and of neurocognitive decline, coupled with symptom improvement and other perceived benefits.

Risk of substance abuseThe data we obtained about illicit drug use from the LTFU Questionnaire supports the hypothesis that MDMA can be administered in a clinical setting with minimal risk that the subjects will subsequently seek out and self-administer ''street ecstasy,'' or become dependent on the drug. This is consistent with the comments from many study subjects, who expressed the strong opinion that the therapeutic setting and close follow-up were essential elements of the treatment, and they did not think MDMA should be used without this level of clinical monitoring and therapeutic support. Furthermore, no subject developed a substance abuse problem with any illicit drug after their MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. PTSD is associated with a high incidence of co-morbid substance abuse (Brown and Wolfe, 1994; Ford et al., 2007) and MDMA, as ecstasy (which is a material that may contain other substances in addition to or instead of MDMA), has a history of being a drug of abuse, so our findings were reassuring, though not unexpected: As it is the emotional distress of PTSD that often contributes to the use of intoxicants as an escape or an attempt at self-medication (Brady et al., 2000b), when that emotional distress is reduced, as it was with this experimental treatment, it follows that the subject's motivation for drug abuse would be reduced, as well.

Risk of neurocognitive declineFavorable reports about cognitive function, memory, and concentration on the LTFU Questionnaire were consistent with findings from formal measures of cognitive function that were taken before and after psychotherapy with MDMA versus placebo, in the original study. Though reports from actual testing are more reliable than reports of perceived cognitive function, this long-term self-reported evidence is still important, because of the controversy surrounding theories that there are potential risks of neurocognitive decline resulting from MDMA administration, as has been suggested by animal studies and some retrospective studies in recreational drug users (Thomasius et al., 2006; Kalechstein et al., 2007; Laws and Kokkalis, 2007; Zakzanis et al., 2007; De Sola Llopis et al., 2008; Jager et al., 2008; Schilt et al., 2008; Brown et al., 2010; Kish et al., 2010; Verbaten, 2010) and one prospective study (Schilt et al., 2007). The possible causes and precise nature of impaired cognitive function in regular ecstasy users do appear to be complex and studies have yielded contradictory findings (Gouzoulis-Mayfrank and Daumann, 2006; Rogers et al., 2009). The lack of evidence of neurocognitive decline associated with MDMA in our initial study, as well as in the LTFU self-reports are consistent with the most well-controlled studies of recreational ecstasy use and neurocognitive performance, which report largely negative findings (Halpern et al., 2004; Hoshi et al., 2007; Roiser et al., 2007; Bedi and Redman, 2008; Hanson and Luciana, 2010; Halpern et al., 2011).

Symptom improvement and other benefits reported on our LTFU QuestionnaireIt is notable that no subjects reported any harm from study participation and all of them reported some degree of benefit. Consistent with the investigators' clinical observations in the original study, the responses we obtained on the questionnaire indicated that participants often experienced benefits beyond decreased PTSD symptoms. This is not a radical idea; many forms of psychotherapy produce benefits in terms of psychological growth and development that are not limited to improvements in a specific disorder that may have been the original target of therapy (Tedeschi and Calhoun, 2006; Zoellner and Maercker, 2006). Such benefits may prove to be a particularly prominent and valuable feature of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. Some of the areas of benefit that were endorsed on the LTFU Questionnaire, such as an increased self-awareness, improved relationships, an enhanced spiritual life, and more involvement in the community or world, represent effects that are not fully measured by the PTSD symptom scales.

A sustained improvement in PTSD symptoms documented on the CAPS, plus other benefits reported on the LTFU Questionnaire, have implications regarding one of the limitations of the previous study: the fact that the blinding turned out to be transparent to the investigators and to most of the participants (though not to the independent rater). This problem is inherent in all drug studies, but is particularly challenging to overcome in studies of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, because of the prominent psychoactive effects MDMA has, as well as its effects on blood pressure and pulse rate. Observation of these effects may have contributed to the investigators' ability to correctly distinguish MDMA-assisted sessions from therapy-only sessions (Bjorkedal and Flaten, 2011). In addition, any studies of drug-assisted psychotherapy (rather than of drug effect alone) present particular challenges in distinguishing the drug effects from the effects of psychotherapy with placebo. Nevertheless, if the placebo response is tied to receiving an apparent therapy, the favorable LTFU results we obtained a year or more later in this cohort of previously treatment-resistant subjects would suggest that the strength and duration of symptomatic improvement that we observed is not easily attributable to a placebo response or a spontaneous remission (Price et al., 2008; Benedetti and Amanzio, 2011), though further studies will be needed to establish this conclusively.

Additional evidence of the positive MDMA treatment effects is apparent in the types of benefits endorsed by the subjects on the LTFU Questionnaire and its Comments section. While not a substitute for the validated primary outcome measures, this descriptive material provides us with an important context in which the outcome data can be evaluated and understood. The benefits endorsed and described extend beyond the realm of symptom reduction. Many subjects reported deeply meaningful therapeutic experiences and ensuing improvements in their lives. A majority of participants endorsed benefits such as, ''increased self-awareness and understanding'' and ''enhanced spiritual life.'' These responses and many of the individual comments on the Questionnaire point to a subjectively authentic process of psychological and spiritual exploration and growth that could logically be expected to facilitate trauma processing and symptom reduction, and to promote healthy psychological development. Improvements of this kind could reasonably be expected to persist for a year or more, as was endorsed by 80% of the subjects, and even to ''last and continue to grow,'' as endorsed by 40% of subjects. In addition, several participants wrote comments describing an incomplete but ongoing process of improvement, referring to an ''ongoing journey'' or having ''gained tools'' while ''still struggling in many areas.'' Since these comments were usually accompanied by persistently low CAPS scores, we believe that they represent additional evidence for a meaningful, ongoing, therapeutic process that was originally catalyzed by MDMA-assisted psychotherapy and is likely leading to important benefits in addition to PTSD symptom reduction. On the other hand, these comments could be taken to indicate a weakness in the treatment, as evidenced by continued psychological challenges; however, they more likely convey a strength of the treatment, in that it can enhance participants' capacity to engage more effectively in their own continued healing and growth.

LimitationsThere are several limitations of the study design to be taken into account in interpreting our data. Only 16 out of 19 subjects completed the LTFU CAPS or IES-R, though this issue was addressed with the intent-to-treat analysis and with the information gathered from all 19 MDMA subjects who did complete the Questionnaire. While the randomized control group design, along with the crossover arm in the original trial, went a long way toward ruling out the possibility that there was only a placebo response, there was no meaningful control group for our LTFU, because all but one subject ultimately received active treatment in the initial study. Because it is not practical nor ethical to maintain a placebo group for over a year, nor to control for other treatments for that period of time, this limitation is commonly found in LTFU studies. In light of this limitation, it is possible that the favorable results of this LTFU study were caused by resolution of symptoms due to natural history (Price et al., 2008) or to other variables that were not controlled for after the original 2-month follow-up. An important argument against this is that the cohort was originally screened specifically to have treatment-refractory PTSD and their mean duration of symptoms had been more than 19 years.

The long follow-up period allowed us to identify relapses that would not have been identified within a shorter follow-up period. On the other hand, the longer the time elapsed between the experimental intervention and follow-up, the more likely it is that life events will have intervened and had their own effect on outcome, either positive or negative. The interval between final MDMA-assisted session and LTFU varied considerably because the LTFU was an amendment to the protocol written and approved well after the start of the study, with the first LTFU assessments occurring 5 years after study initiation. While this enabled us to obtain follow-up data at exceptionally long time intervals after treatment, it would have been preferable to have measured long-term data at a fixed interval from each subject's final MDMA session. Ongoing studies of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy now include a long-term follow-up component from the start that will result in far less variation in time of LTFU. In addition, we believe that future versions of the LTFU questionnaire should include questions about significant intervening life events.

Perhaps the most important factor confounding the attribution of the persistence of therapeutic benefits entirely to our experimental intervention is that at LTFU, 8 of 19 subjects were still in psychotherapy and 12 of 19 were taking psychiatric medicines. Although this did represent a decrease in the use of psychotherapy and psychiatric drugs compared to baseline, it is impossible to know how much these treatments may have influenced the durability of benefits measured at LTFU. The small sample size does not allow for meaningful statistical comparisons between the subjects who continued treatment and those who did not. Although these confounding factors preclude a definite conclusion about the long-term benefits of the experimental treatment, it is noteworthy that the original sample included only participants with PTSD, usually of many years duration, who had already proven resistant to prior therapy and medication. We believe it unlikely that additional medication and/or psychotherapy similar to what they had received prior to entry in our first study would have consistently led to any sustained improvement across the majority of participants, if there had not been some significant lasting therapeutic effect and benefit from our MDMA-assisted psychotherapy sessions; however, it may well be that, for some participants, ongoing medication and/or psychotherapy were important factors in maintaining remission, analogous to the way antidepressants may be necessary to maintain remission following electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in patients who had previously been treatment resistant (Sackeim et al., 2001; Sienaert, 2011).

There are several other possible explanations for the substantial rates of continued psychotherapy and psychiatric medications at LTFU in those subjects with persistently low CAPS scores: the CAPS could have failed to capture some PTSD symptoms, though presently there is no better instrument to do so; ongoing treatment could have been targeted at a psychopathology other than PTSD, such as other anxiety disorders or persistent or recurrent mood disorders; and medications could have still been prescribed in the absence of an active Axis I disorder or other well-established indication. Alternatively, with the amelioration of their PTSD psychopathology, it may be that participants were undergoing psychotherapy to further their personal growth and self-understanding and/or to support expansion and integration of any therapeutic gains made during MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. The reasons given by subjects for the use of psychiatric medications lend some support to the notion that most drugs were not prescribed for PTSD, but the Questionnaire did not ask for the reasons for ongoing psychotherapy.

Attempts are under way to further address these limitations and to build upon the results. The authors are currently conducting a study of military veterans with PTSD, using a randomized, three-arm design with low, medium, and full dose MDMA, in order to address the limited effectiveness of the blind in the original study. Steps are also being taken to capture more information about other possible beneficial effects by inclusion of the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (Tedeschi and Calhoun, 1996) and a measure for mystical or transformative experiences (Griffiths et al., 2006), as well as through collaboration with others who are applying process measures and descriptive analysis to video recordings from these studies.

The investigators have recently obtained approval for a new proof-of-principle study to determine if one additional open-label MDMA-assisted psychotherapy session can restore prior therapeutic gains in people who had responded well to MDMA-assisted psychotherapy initially, but had relapsed a year or more later. Studies are also being undertaken by MAPS-sponsored researchers at other locations, to determine whether or not these results can be replicated. Valuable data could be generated if additional studies were conducted by independent research teams using the same treatment method described in the Manual; plus in the future, other treatment methods using MDMA should also be tested. Future studies will be needed to finalize the double-blind methodology, assess the magnitude and variance of the treatment's effect if delivered by other co-therapist teams, evaluate whether the method is generalizable across patient populations and different cultures, and address questions about the therapeutic method's mechanism of action, optimal dosing and possible refinements to the method.

U.S. panel advises HIV tests for everyone ages 15 to 64

Link to Article

Source: ccampeador

Tue, 20 Nov 2012 14:30

By Rosie Mestel, Los Angeles TimesNovember 19, 2012, 10:45 p.m.

Nearly everyone ages 15 to 64 should be screened for HIV even if they're not at great risk for contracting the virus, according to new guidelines proposed by an influential panel of medical experts. If the panel ultimately adopts those recommendations, Medicare and most private health insurers will be required to pay for the tests.

The draft guidelines were written by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent group that operates under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services to advise the government and the nation's physicians on the medical evidence for preventive health measures.

Posted online Monday on the task force website for a four-week period of public comment, the guidelines also recommend that doctors offer HIV tests to people under 15 or over 64 if they are at high risk for contracting HIV and '-- in advice that has not changed '-- to all pregnant women.

The recommendations, which would apply to all but very-low-risk populations, are a clear shift toward broader testing for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The task force's 2005 guidelines suggested routine HIV screening only for adolescents and adults at increased risk, including men who have sex with men, injection drug users, people who trade sex for drugs and those who have multiple sexual partners.

But studies published since that time offer strong evidence that HIV-infected individuals '-- along with their intimate partners and the public '-- are better served by near-universal screening, said task force member Dr. Douglas K. Owens, a general internist and director of the Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research in the School of Medicine at Stanford University.

Some of those reports found that people who were treated earlier for HIV infections fared better than those who started treatment later, and routine screening improved the chances that patients would learn of their infections sooner, Owens said. Studies also show that when people learn they are HIV-positive, they are more likely to adopt safe-sex behaviors.

A landmark clinical trial last year involving 1,763 couples, most of them heterosexual, showed that when HIV-positive partners were treated early with antiretroviral medications, transmission of the virus to uninfected partners was reduced by 96%.

The 15-to-64 age range was suggested for such tests '-- which could be offered to patients visiting their doctors or hospitals for any reason '-- because government health statistics show this would capture the majority of Americans who contract the virus every year, Owens said.

Still, he added, ''We want to emphasize that the best way to reduce HIV-related disease and death is to avoid getting infected in the first place.''

Experts have also known for some time that treating pregnant women who have HIV can greatly reduce the risk of infecting their babies, which is why the task force continues to recommend universal screening for this group.

About 50,000 new cases of HIV infections occur in the United States each year. Since today's medications allow HIV-infected people to live longer, the number of people living with HIV will steadily increase unless ways are found to lower the rate of new infections, said Dr. Bernard M. Branson, an epidemiologist in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. Every infection that is averted saves $367,000 in lifetime medical costs, he said.

The agency's own guidelines, released in 2006 and co-written by Branson, are largely in line with the ones now proposed by the task force '-- although the CDC recommended that testing begin at age 13 instead of 15. As is the case with the task force proposal, testing is optional but is the default, conducted unless patients decline or they belong to a group in which HIV-positive rates are 1 in 1,000 or lower.

The American College of Physicians, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics, among other groups, also recommend widespread HIV tests, with slight differences.

Doctors said that making the HIV test routine for all but the lowest-risk groups removes the stigma associated with getting a test and increases the likelihood of an early diagnosis. Conversations to assess a patient's risk status are time-consuming and awkward, and patients are often not truthful about their sexual behavior, they said.

The issue is especially complicated in the case of adolescents, said Dr. Patricia J. Emmanuel, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of South Florida in Tampa who co-wrote the 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines that recommend testing for teens ages 16 and older. When tests are done only for high-risk patients, the very fact someone had a test is a betrayal of confidentiality, she said. A routine HIV test ''helps to create an environment where HIV testing is another medical screening test, not something so special,'' she said.

Despite the growing list of endorsements, surveys show that many doctors are not performing the tests routinely, said Dr. Jeffrey D. Klausner, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at UCLA.

''On a daily basis, people come into the hospital and are not offered an HIV test. They go to the doctor for a checkup and are not offered an HIV test,'' Klausner said. ''As an AIDS provider, I regularly see people who have missed the opportunity to be diagnosed, and so they present to me with end-stage cancers and infections'' related to AIDS.

The task force based its draft report on two reviews of the science conducted by independent groups of scientists, one focused on HIV screening for the population at large and one on pregnant women. Those reviews were published online Monday by the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The panel listed its recommendations as Grade A, meaning that there is high certainty of substantial benefit. As such, most insurers would be required to pay for the HIV tests under the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act if the advice is finalized.

rosie.mestel@latimes.com

FDA approves first-of-a-kind flu vaccine made with animal cell technology.

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Source: WT news feed

Thu, 22 Nov 2012 12:39

The Food and Drug Administration says it has approved the first seasonal flu vaccine made using animal cell technology, rather than the half-century egg method.

The FDA approved Novartis' Flucelvax to prevent influenza in people 18 years and older.

The new method has been promoted by U.S. health officials because it is faster than egg-based production and could speed up manufacturing in the event of a pandemic.

In the older method, virus samples are injected into specialized chicken eggs and incubated. The egg fluids are later harvested, concentrated and purified into the vaccine.

With cell technology, small amounts of virus are put in fermenting tanks with nutrients and cells derived from mammals. The virus is then inactivated, purified and put into vaccine vials.

Criminal ADHD treatment advocated Express & Star

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Thu, 22 Nov 2012 12:03

Treating a common behavioural disorder in convicted criminals could have a major impact on reoffending, a study has suggested.

A disproportionate number of people with ADHD end up being convicted of petty crimes

Criminal behaviour in people diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) falls by about a third when they are on medication, the research shows.

Translated to the prison population, similar treatment could have a dramatic effect, experts believe.

Around 4% of children in the UK and half as many adults are believed to suffer from the disorder, which is characterised by over-activity, impulsivity, aggression, short temper and disorganised thinking.

But a disproportionate number of people with ADHD end up being convicted of petty crimes, often related to violence and drug abuse. Studies suggest that anything from 10% to 40% of prison inmates have the disorder, but few are diagnosed or treated.

Treating ADHD-affected children with drugs such as the stimulant Ritalin is controversial because of the side effects, which can include nervous system disturbances and raised blood pressure and heart rate.

But the study authors say such drugs could have a real impact on crime, although their use would have to be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis.

The research was conducted in Sweden, where it is easy to access data on medical treatments and criminal convictions through national registries. Scientists studied the records of more than 25,000 individuals with ADHD, mostly teenagers and young adults.

They found that over a period of four years, 37% of the men and 15% of the women were convicted of crimes, compared with a rate in the general population of 9% and 2%. Drug treatment for ADHD was associated with a 32% drop in offending rates by men and 41% by women - an overall reduction of about a third.

The findings are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

A long-serving chief constable has resigned after apparently being told by his new boss that he would have to apply for his own job.

MP Nadine Dorries has insisted that she warned the Government chief whip she was taking a month off for something "quite controversial" before entering the jungle for I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!.

The report from the first part of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards is to be released next Thursday.

Drugs services have reported a rise in people coming to them with health problems caused by taking the banned substance mephedrone, with some heavy users injecting it more than 20 times a day.

Belgische kinderen slikten nooit meer medicijnen

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Thu, 22 Nov 2012 11:59

De Belgische kinderen nemen meer medicatie dan ooit. Het gebruik bij min-18-jarigen is in vijf jaar tijd met 15 procent gestegen. Dat blijkt uit cijfers van het Riziv, schrijft Het Laatste Nieuws.

De stijging doet zich voor bij zowat alle medicijnen voor kinderen. Van liefst 12 van de 15 meest voorgeschreven middelen bij min-18-jarigen is het gebruik gestegen tussen 2007 en 2011.

De grootste stijging doet zich voor bij de refluxremmers, waarvan het gebruik met meer dan de helft toenam. Jaarlijks worden meer dan 3 miljoen van die maagzuurremmers voorgeschreven. Ook middelen tegen psychoses, zoals schizofrenie (+37 procent) en ADHD-medicatie (+35 procent) worden jaar na jaar vaker gebruikt, net als medicijnen tegen diabetes (+24 procent) en astma (+21 procent).

Overmedicatie

Kinderartsen en -psychiaters schrikken enorm van de 'hallucinante cijfers. Er is volgens hen (C)(C)n grote oorzaak: overmedicatie. 'We schrijven kinderen v(C)(C)l te makkelijk en veel te veel medicatie voor,' zegt professor kindergeneeskunde Yvan Vandenplas (VUB). 'Een alarmerende evolutie die dringend een halt toegeroepen moet worden. De bijwerkingen van deze middelen zijn veel te gevaarlijk om er zo licht mee om te springen.'

Ook psychoanalyticus Stijn Vanheule (UGent) is verontrust door de sterke stijging. Mensen zien geneeskunde te vaak als een consumptieproduct,' meent hij. Net zoals bij een kapotte computer die ze vervangen, moet ook een ziekte liefst in 1-2-3 opgelost zijn. Dus zoeken ze hun heil in geneesmiddelen die voor deze quick fix zorgen. Zeer onrustwekkend.'

SSRIs and Alcohol Cravings [Archive] - Forums at Psych Central

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Thu, 22 Nov 2012 04:46

View Full Version : SSRIs and Alcohol Cravings

06-08-2012, 02:49 PM

I found out something recently that I'd never considered and that is a possible connection between antidepressants and cravings for alcohol and/or sugar.I've been taking antidepressants for several years, starting with Cymbalta and shortly thereafter moving to Celexa as the Cymbalta gave me pretty bad insomnia.

About the time I started on the Celexa I also began to drink more. I'd lost my job at the time and thought that was the reason but the drinking continued although I did get another, although crappy, job.

I experienced cravings for alcohol that I'd never experienced before although being a social drinker for most of my life. Went to meetings which never helped as the 12 step programs always seemed like an unlikely answer to the problem.

Recently my wife suggested that I look into changing to a different antidepressant so I began researching Celexa only to find that it, and it's little brother Lexapro are considered to be the most effective of all the meds.

However, in doing the research, I came across more than a few forum posts from people who said that they went from light or moderate drinkers to heavy drinkers after starting on the medication.

I then Googled ssri+alcohol cravings and was astonished at the number of posts, articles, etc. which seemed to support the idea. The working hypothesis is that, over time, the medication can cause a drop in blood sugar levels. For those of us who drink, this can cause an overwhelming compulsion to drink and for those with a sweet tooth, an overwhelming compulsion for sugar. This could go a long ways towards explaining the weight gains that many people experience while on these medications.

I decided to go cold turkey off my Celexa and, although I haven't stopped drinking completely, the overwhelming urge and compulsion that I felt to do so have disappeared.

Not suggesting this is the answer for everyone but it might be worth looking into further.

TM

06-09-2012, 11:17 PM

wow! thanks for the info! I gained a lot of weight and went through a heavy drinking phase while on Celexa/Lexapro. that makes a lot of sense now. oh, and funny, my pnurse won't give me Xanax now, even though I quit drinking. she said it could cause me to want to drink which I've never heard. I'm going to look that up now. thanks for the heads up!

06-13-2012, 01:36 AM

Antidepressants can cause mania or hypomania which will make you want to drink to "come down" especially if you are undiagnosed bipolar.When they started me on SSRI's 6 years ago my addiction went from manageable to the moon. 2 years ago I was diagnosed bipolar, never taken off the SSRI's/SNRI's until 2 months ago. After being taken off them my desire to use drugs has been cut drastically.

06-14-2012, 08:23 AM

I decided to go cold turkey off my Celexa and, although I haven't stopped drinking completely, the overwhelming urge and compulsion that I felt to do so have disappeared.i'm thinking this info should be discussed with your doc. if he is assuming you're still on celexa and u're not you could spiral down into depression. there are many effective antidepressants that may work for you. obviously the pdoc felt an anti-d was needed to stabilize you, texas man.i noticed a craving for sweets upon taking some of my meds. i complained to my doc. he answered, would you rather be happy and chubbier or thin and depressed? well that was all i needed to hear to stay on the meds he prescribed.alcohol is mostly sugar. when we don't drink the body thinks it is supposed to have the same level of sugar. what i did was not drink and resort to fruits especially when i was early sober and still find fruits work and i can eliminate the weight gain. as for celexa per se a common side effect is weight loss. in clinical trials only 1% of the population on celexa report weight gain. you may be in that catagory.as for the increase of drinking perhaps you have crossed the line and are becoming more reliant on the alcohol.i've researched celexa at medical/pharma sites and do not find the craving for sugar/weight gain as a common side effect, justme. http://www.drugs.com/sfx/celexa-side-effects.htmlhttp://www.webmd.com/drugs/drug-8603-Celexa+Oral.aspx?drugid=8603&drugname=Celexa+Oral&pagenumber=6http://depression.emedtv.com/celexa/celexa-side-effects.htmljust my experience.

06-14-2012, 02:52 PM

I had intense cravings for alcohol on SSRIS which got me into all sort of problems, I lost my job, my home and ended up in prison, I had never been in trouble in my life. I told my story on Dr David Healys website "david healy out of my mind driven to drink"Be very very careful with drinking on any SSRIS, if you do feel your getting alcohol cravings then you should take this as a serious side effect and let your doctor know and think about an alternative medication. Its a real side effect with disastrous and sometimes very dagerous consequences.

06-14-2012, 05:30 PM

I think that everyone is different and reacts differently. Many drugs have known side effects not listed in the manufacturer's literature.What surprised me were the number of individual experiences I found very similar to mine just by Googling "ssri+alcohol craving".

Try it for yourself.

06-14-2012, 06:03 PM

overall your not drinking as much is certainly positive. glad you found the source of your cravings to overcome them.i referenced a post you made on may 4th. excerpt I'm going to continue with the naltrexone do you find that has been helpful with your drinking habits? i know many ppl have had good results taking it.

06-14-2012, 08:46 PM

OMG. I wonder if it's the same with zoloft. I always had to have sugar or beer. I quit drinking 70 some days ago and the sugar has been ridiculous. I even get up to eat sweets in the night. I've gained 20 lbs in that time which depresses me somewhat. Well now that I know it may be caused by this, hopefully I can adjust my diet accordingly. We'll see. At least I don't have to think of myself as a completly weak soul. Thank You

06-15-2012, 09:20 AM

OMG. I wonder if it's the same with zoloft. I always had to have sugar or beer. I quit drinking 70 some days ago and the sugar has been ridiculous. I even get up to eat sweets in the night. I've gained 20 lbs in that time which depresses me somewhat. Well now that I know it may be caused by this, hopefully I can adjust my diet accordingly. We'll see. At least I don't have to think of myself as a completly weak soul. Thank Youfrom one of my posts. in early sobriety craving sweets is very common. alcohol is mostly sugar. when we don't drink the body/brain thinks it is supposed to have the same level of sugar. what i did was not drink and resort to fruits especially when i was early sober and still find fruits work and i can eliminate the weight gain.alsoBlood sugar levels can have many effects on a person's energy level, their mood, and even their desire for sugary substances. Since alcohol, being made from grains and fermented fruits, is high in sugar, its effects on blood sugar levels could play a role in why it is as addictive as it is and why alcoholics form a dependency.When a person's blood sugars are too low, it can cause them to crave sugar (or in the alcoholic's case, alcohol). When the levels are high from eating sweet foods and beverages, our bodies produce insulin which will often cause it to drop rapidly and begin the cycle of cravings all over again. Many recovering alcoholics who before were not fans of sweetened foods find themselves after giving up alcohol that they desire these things more often than before.http://talkrehab.org/sugar-craving-recovering-alcoholics/

06-15-2012, 05:17 PM

Honestly, I didn't feel much different on the naltrexone but the protocol for that is that it takes around six months to notice a difference.

06-16-2012, 09:02 AM

Texasman, are you familiar with baclofen?Recent clinical trials and case-reports indicate that baclofen, a GABA(B) agonist, may have efficacy for alcohol dependence. Baclofen has been shown to enhance abstinence, to reduce drinking quantity, to reduce craving, and to reduce anxiety in alcohol-dependent individuals in 2 placebo-controlled trials in Italy. The purpose of the present study was to test the efficacy and tolerability of baclofen in alcohol dependence in the United States.i know many have taken it to reduce craving with alcohol and cocaine use. there's other info posted here at pc and those that have taken it found it quite helpful. i'm aware all of us on meds have different successes. (perhaps someone can find the articles and post if u're interested.) just a consideration.

06-16-2012, 09:12 AM

Ive put a link here to my story and another similar story, I hope this will be of some help to anyone experienceing alcohol cravings whilst on SSRIS.http://davidhealy.org/out-of-my-mind-driven-to-drink/ (http://davidhealy.org/out-of-my-mind-driven-to-drink/)http://davidhealy.org/every-drink-spiked/ (http://davidhealy.org/every-drink-spiked/)

06-17-2012, 02:12 PM

Madisgram,Thanks for the heads up but I am familiar with baclofan. My doctor prescribed it for me but during the period of taking it I experienced a couple of episodes where I became very faint and discontinued usage of it. The faintness went away immediately so I can clearly tie it to the baclofan.

06-17-2012, 02:14 PM

Zebb,Thanks for posting the link. Yours was one of the many stories I encountered during my looking into this.

I'm happy to report that I'm no longer experiencing any cravings for alcohol. I can now come home, have a beer or two, and stop drinking without a problem.

06-18-2012, 05:06 PM

What I find worrying is that many people are increasing their drinking but aren't aware that it could be their medication doing it, also the combination can be dangerous for some people like myself. I didn't have a clue what I was doing and was out of control, this is why its so important for people to report this side effect if only to help prevent other people from getting into this mess. Im glad to hear you've sorted yourself out TexasMan thanks for shareing your experience.

10-03-2012, 03:45 PM

I know this is a pretty old topic, however I found this thread today and it really hit me hard. Every since my doctor put me on Zoloft, my drinking went from moderate to large quantities of wine and liquor. At first I thought I was just building up a tolerance. Then I realized I was okay if I did not have the first drink...if I had 1 then I would not be able to stop. I truly believe that Zoloft is responsible. I have NEVER craved alcohol, now I can't drink at all or else it takes over. For the first time in my life I have had nights at parties where I can't remember what I did the night before. First of all I am going to tapper off the Z because I don't think I need it, now that the crisis is over...that caused me to start taking it in the first place. I am not one to play the victim or place blame on other people or circumstances, however I believe Zoloft can turn a casual drinking into an alcoholic overnight. I am so glad that I have the information that you all have posted. It makes me realize that it is the meds talking. Thank you all for the info on this! Truly invaluable.

10-04-2012, 06:23 PM

Hspindler,Please make any changes to your medication with the support of your doctors. Please stay safe.

TM

10-04-2012, 07:51 PM

I know there are several medications I cant take, Zoloft being one of them and Wellabutrin. On Zoloft I couldn't think straight and definitely drank more on it. I drank on all my meds, I finally got sick of it and quite the drinking. I take three medications now and dont have any desire to drink at all. Well everybody is different. :)

10-08-2012, 10:49 PM

First Post. Must say that this forum is a life saver. I thought I was the only one on Zoloft that craved alcohol. I am not alone. I also think that it is strange that my sex drive has gone though the roof! I mean, all doctor literature preaches dysfunction, no one hits on an INCREASED need for sex and a lowered inhibition level. This could be a problem. I have tried Lexapro, however it made me nuts. SSRI'S (Zoloft) effects everyone in a different way. That is the important thing to realize. Thanks for this board. Sometimes I feel alone without others to talk to about this. I know it is really a chemical imbalance, before i would have said that is bunk, now I am a believer, in how powerful the drugs are. I can also see a direct correlation of my increased drinking and being put on Zoloft, now that I look back at it.HS

10-08-2012, 10:56 PM

Texasman and Layla 11Thanks. Have been tapering off the drinking in hopes that this will help. These drugs are interesting to say the lest. Also on Lamictal for seizures.

10-16-2012, 09:19 PM

38 female. Was on Prozac for two years. Quit cold turkey *people, please never do this!*. Anyways, never cares about drinking until prozac. I think it created anxiety. My cravings were so high, I could drink a bottle of wine every night.Now, have not been on ssris for 9 months. Very low cravings if ever and one glass is enough.....

10-16-2012, 11:34 PM

Hey Tex, I feel the same way about SSRIs/SNRIs. Before I took SNRIs or SSRIs, I was a social drinker and barely even a social drinker at that (even if I went out with friends or was at a function, it would be a lot if I drank 1 beer the entire time). After the antidepressants, I noticed that my "thirst" began to rise. I expressed the correlation to my doc at the time, and the 3 after him, and they all looked at me like I lost my mind. I have done my fair share of googling about my theory and it is still open to debate.I feel very strongly that the psychiatric medications were the catalyst to alcoholism and substance abuse in me. I have a feeling this theory will be proven in years to come...

I'm not telling anyone to stop taking their medication, only sharing my opinion.

10-22-2012, 02:56 PM

So it's not just me then. I've had that same problem, although alcoholism runs heavily through my family. I joined AA, but I still think about booze all the time. It's a day to day thing. But I've been sober for just over a month now.

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Useful Apps | UDotheRest.com

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Thu, 22 Nov 2012 04:40

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Australia: NSW boys can now get HPV vaccine

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Source: WT news feed

Thu, 22 Nov 2012 12:36

NSW boys are to get access to the vaccine against the potentially cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV), which has previously only been available for girls.

From 2013, boys in Year 7 will be offered the HPV vaccine each year with boys in Year 9 offered it as part of a national catch-up program.

The vaccine has already resulted in a drop in the infections that lead to cervical cancer in women, NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said.

"The vaccine, available to girls since 2007, is highly effective in preventing the main types of HPV infection and should be given to adolescents before they become sexually active," she said in a statement on Thursday.

"Extending the vaccination program to boys will help protect them against some of the most common types of HPV infection and against developing a range of cancers."

Associate Professor Kristine Macartney of the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance said immunising young men would help prevent women becoming infected with the sexually transmitted virus.

Almost all cases of cervical cancer and genital warts are due to HPV infection, which can also cause cancers in other parts of the body.

The vaccine protects against two of several high-risk types of HPV associated with cancer.

Federal Register | International Conference on Harmonisation; Guidance on Q11 Development and Manufacture of Drug Substances; Availability

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Tue, 20 Nov 2012 22:45

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing the availability of a guidance entitled ''Q11 Development and Manufacture of Drug Substances.'' The guidance was prepared under the auspices of the International Conference on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH). The guidance describes approaches to developing and understanding the manufacturing process of a drug substance and provides guidance on what information should be provided in certain sections of the Common Technical Document (CTD). The guidance is intended to harmonize the scientific and technical principles relating to the description and justification of the development and manufacturing process of drug substances (both chemical entities and biotechnological/biological entities) to enable a consistent approach for providing and evaluating this information across the three regions. The discussion of principles in the guidance is intended to apply only to the manufacture of drug substance, not the manufacture of finished drug products.

Submit either electronic or written comments on Agency guidances at any time.

Submit written requests for single copies of the guidance to the Division of Drug Information (HFD-240), Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 51, Rm. 2201, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, or the Office of Communication, Outreach and Development (HFM-40), Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), Food and Drug Administration, 1401 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852-1448. Send one self-addressed adhesive label to assist the office in processing your requests. The guidance may also be obtained by mail by calling CBER at 1-800-835-4709 or 301-827-1800. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for electronic access to the guidance document.

Submit electronic comments on the guidance to http://www.regulations.gov. Submit written comments to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

Regarding the guidance:

John Smith, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 21, rm. 2619, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-1757; or

Stephen Ripley, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (HFM-17), Food and Drug Administration, 1401 Rockville Pike, suite 200N, Rockville, MD 20852-1448, 301-827-6210.

Regarding the ICH:

Michelle Limoli, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, International Programs, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 51, rm. 3342, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-8377.

In recent years, many important initiatives have been undertaken by regulatory authorities and industry associations to promote international harmonization of regulatory requirements. FDA has participated in many meetings designed to enhance harmonization and is committed to seeking scientifically based harmonized technical procedures for pharmaceutical development. One of the goals of harmonization is to identify and then reduce differences in technical requirements for drug development among regulatory Agencies.

ICH was organized to provide an opportunity for harmonization initiatives to be developed with input from both regulatory and industry representatives. FDA also seeks input from consumer representatives and other stakeholders. ICH is concerned with harmonization of technical requirements for the registration of pharmaceutical products among three regions: The European Union, Japan, and the United States. The six ICH sponsors are the European Commission; the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries Associations; the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare; the Japanese Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association; the Centers for Drug Evaluation and Research and Biologics Evaluation and Research, FDA; and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. The ICH Secretariat, which coordinates the preparation of documentation, is provided by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations (IFPMA).

The ICH Steering Committee includes representatives from each of the ICH sponsors and the IFPMA, as well as observers from the World Health Organization, Health Canada, and the European Free Trade Area.

In the Federal Register of June 29, 2011 (76 FR 38187), FDA published a notice announcing the availability of a draft guidance entitled ''Q11 Development and Manufacture of Drug Substances.'' The notice gave interested persons an opportunity to submit comments by September 1, 2011.

FDA received numerous comments on the draft guidance and those comments were considered as the guidance was finalized. After consideration of the comments and revisions to the guidance, a final draft of the guidance was submitted to the ICH Steering Committee and endorsed by the three participating regulatory Agencies in April 2012. The final document provides guidance on approaches to developing and understanding the manufacturing process of the drug substance and provides guidance on what information should be provided in certain sections of the CTD. A summary of changes includes the following: (1) Revisions to the introduction and process development sections to more strongly emphasize that purification processes play a significant role in drug substance manufacture, (2) revisions to the discussion of design space for chemical entities and biotechnological/biological drug substances, and (3) revisions to the discussion of control strategy. In addition, editorial changes were made to improve clarity.

This guidance is being issued consistent with FDA's good guidance practices regulation (21 CFR 10.115). The guidance represents the Agency's current thinking on this topic. It does not create or confer any rights for or on any person and does not operate to bind FDA or the public. An alternative approach may be used if such approach satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations.

Interested persons may submit either written comments regarding this document to the Division of Dockets Management (see ADDRESSES) or electronic comments to http://www.regulations.gov. It is only necessary to send one set of comments. Identify comments with the docket number found in brackets in the heading of this document. Received comments may be seen in the Division of Dockets Management between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and will be posted to the docket at http://www.regulations.gov.

Dated: November 14, 2012.

Leslie Kux,

Assistant Commissioner for Policy.

[FR Doc. 2012-28142 Filed 11-19-12; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4160-01-P

Out There

Has NASA discovered life on Mars? Space agency hints at 'historic' discovery

Link to Article

Source: Dave Winer's linkblog feed

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 14:30

It could be one of the most important discoveries in the history of NASA.

U.S. space agency officials reportedly are planning to announce a ''major'' discovery in December, leading to speculation that some form of life may have been discovered on Mars.

''This data is gonna be one for the history books,'' NASA's Curiosity chief scientist John Grotzinger, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, told NPR on Tuesday, sparking speculation among the astronomy community. ''It's looking really good.''

It remains unclear what exactly NASA officials have discovered on the Red Planet. The discovery is reportedly the result of recent research conducted on Mars by Curiosity. The rover has spent the last several weeks roaming the planet in an effort to collect samples of soil and study the martian atmosphere. Speaking earlier this week NASA officials said the data collected during one of these missions led to the discovery.

''We're getting data from SAM as we sit here and speak, and the data looks really interesting,'' Mr. Grotzinger notes. ''The science team is busily chewing away on it as it comes down.''

Over the coming weeks, NASA scientists will reportedly study the data in an effort to pin down the exact finding, according to various reports. The announcement comes just weeks after NASA said they have yet to find evidence that the planet most like Earth in the solar system has methane, a gas tied to biological processes.

That said, it has been noted that the discovery could relate to an earlier mission aimed at measuring radiation levels on the planet. Researchers announced earlier this month that data collected during a mission yielded surprising results, including the potential detection of methane. Using the car-sized mobile laboratory, NASA researchers said at the time that they had identified transient whirlwinds, mapped winds in relation to slopes, tracked daily and seasonal changes in air pressure, and linked rhythmic changes in radiation to daily atmospheric changes. The knowledge gained about these processes could have provided scientists with evidence about environmental changes on Mars that might have led to conditions favorable for life.

In between now and then, the rover is expected to continue its mission. During a Thanksgiving break, the team will use Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam) from Point Lake to examine possible routes and targets to the east. A priority is to choose a rock for the first use of the rover's hammering drill, which will collect samples of powder from rock interiors, according to researchers.

The $2.5 billion Curiosity rover landed inside Mars' Gale Crater in early August. During a two-year prime mission, researchers will use Curiosity's ten instruments to assess whether the study area ever has offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. The mission is seen as a key test for studying whether a manned mission to the planet is possible.

Have something to say? Let us know in the comments section or send an email to the author. You can share ideas for stories by contacting us here.

UFO filmed by Denver news crew

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Thu, 22 Nov 2012 12:22

Who doesn't love a UFO sighting on a slow news day? A Denver FOX31 news crew has confirmed a local man's report of unidentified flying objects regularly zipping around the sky. Like the man, the crew was able to capture on camera the mysterious objects. The Federal Aviation Administration and the North American Aerospace Defense Command both shrugged, saying they had no records or reports of such activity, so the station summoned an aviation expert, who was also stumped. "That is not an airplane. That is not a helicopter. Those are not birds. I can't identify it," he said. But while he allowed that it might be some kind of debris, "as it fits the definition, it's an unidentified flying object." Cue the creepy music. [Source]

Click to see more on msnNOW.com, updated 24 hours a day.

VIDEO

NBCNews.com video: Clinton, Netanhayu meet in Israel

Two news anchors stun viewers by quitting local Fox affiliate station live on air after clashes with senior management over unbalanced political news items | Mail Online

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Wed, 21 Nov 2012 17:58

Co-anchors Cindy Michaels and Tony Consiglio told no one about their decision prior to Tuesday's broadcastThe pair had become frustrated over senior management's attempts to influence their 'balanced journalistic approach' - particularly in relation to politicsMichaels gained notoriety during the 2008 presidential election due to her then resemblance to Sarah Palin, which she described as 'an honor'By David Mccormack

PUBLISHED: 10:07 EST, 21 November 2012 | UPDATED: 12:50 EST, 21 November 2012

Two news anchors at a Fox affiliate station in Bangor, Maine have sensationally quit live on-air, citing a longstanding battle with senior management over journalistic practices.

Co-anchors Cindy Michaels, 46, and Tony Consiglio, 28, shocked both staff and viewers by announcing their resignations at the end of Tuesday's 6 p.m. broadcast.

Michaels, who was also the station's news director, said she had grown frustrated with senior management's influence and desire for 'somewhat unbalanced news,' particularly in relation to politics.

Scroll down for video

Co-anchors Tony Consiglio and Cindy Michaels shocked staff and viewers by announcing their resignations at the end of Tuesday's 6 p.m. Fox Bangor News broadcast

VIDEO: Fed up news anchors quit on live TV

'There was a constant disrespecting and belittling of staff and we both felt there was a lack of knowledge from ownership and upper management in running a newsroom to the extent that I was not allowed to structure and direct them professionally,' Michaels told BangorDailyNews.com.

Michaels, who joined the station in 2006, said a balanced journalistic approach was often frowned upon, although she wasn't specific about what political leaning senior management had expected the reporters to adopt.

'I couldn't do everything I wanted to as a news director. There was a regular undoing of decisions,' she said.

Both Michaels and Consiglio said the idea to resign was something they had talked about for some time and so felt was right to make as a joint decision.

'I just wanted to know that I was doing the best job I could and was being honest and ethical as a journalist, and I thought there were times when I wasn't able to do that,' said Consiglio, who joined the station in 2006 as a sports reporter before becoming a news anchor the next year.

Neither presenter told anyone of their decision prior to Tuesday's broadcast for fear they wouldn't be given the opportunity to say goodbye to viewers.

We quit: Consiglio, second left, and Michaels, third left, claim bosses at Fox Bangor News forced them to report 'unbalanced' political news items

Cindy Michaels gained notoriety during the 2008 presidential election due to her striking resemblance to Sarah Palin, left

WFVX-LP is the Fox affiliate for Central and Eastern Maine and is licensed to serve Bangor.

The station's general manager Mike Palmer described the on air resignations as 'unfortunate, but not unexpected' and denied that senior management gets involved in the daily production of news.

He claimed the station is bucking the industry trend toward downsizing and has added 10 full-time jobs over the past 18 months.

Michaels gained notoriety during the 2008 presidential election due to her striking resemblance to Sarah Palin, then the Republican nominee for Vice President.

Fox News ran a news item about how Michaels received hate mail and nasty phone calls from viewers, she described being compared to Palin as 'an honor.'

Both reporters said they don't have anything lined up in terms of new jobs in the media, although Michaels has started freelance writing.

Video: Sarah Palin lookalike Fox anchor Cindy Michaels

President Obama Gives Pakistan And Yemen Permission To Attack United States? | Mediaite

Link to Article

Tue, 20 Nov 2012 04:46

video

Sunday morning in Thailand, President Barack Obama exchanged the usual pleasantries and gave the usual declarations to the press one would expect when a president begins a three-day tour of Southeast Asia. When asked about the ongoing (and growing) Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the president gave a full-throated defense of Israel's decision to launch military strikes on Gaza in return for Palestinian rocket attacks.

But Reason's Mike Riggsnoticed something particularly hilarious/sad about the president's remarks: Obama accidentally satirized himself and American foreign policy with a few unwittingly ironic lines (emphasis mine):

Let's understand what the precipitating event here that's causing the current crisis and that was an ever-escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli territory but in areas that are populated, and there's no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.

'...So we are fully supportive of Israel's right to defend itself from missiles landing on people's homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians.

'...Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory.

Got that? No country on Earth would tolerate missiles raining down from outside lands. As Riggs wrote in his headline: '''...says the man who regularly bombs Pakistan and Yemen.''

Of course, many people will cry ''false equivalency!'' or justify the double standard by noting that our bombings of Pakistan and Yemen are for targeted killing of militants effectively at war with the United States. If that's how you see it, then fair enough. But one could easily say that Yemen would not tolerate missiles raining down on its civilians'... like one particular 16-year-old boy'... from outside lands.

But Obama's comment is mock-worthy solely for the fact that the crux of his contribution to the ''War on Terror'' has been to'... rain down missiles on civilians in Pakistan and Yemen from outside lands. This has also largely been the crux of American neoconservative foreign policy: outside bombings for me, but not for thee.

And if the leaders of those two countries actually stood up and threatened us with war because of our killing of their civilians, could they point to these remarks when we tell them to back off?

Watch the president's remarks below, via NBC News:'' ''>> Follow Andrew Kirell (@AndrewKirell) on Twitter

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President Obama Gives Pakistan And Yemen Permission To Attack United States? | Mediaite

Link to Article

Tue, 20 Nov 2012 04:46

video

Sunday morning in Thailand, President Barack Obama exchanged the usual pleasantries and gave the usual declarations to the press one would expect when a president begins a three-day tour of Southeast Asia. When asked about the ongoing (and growing) Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the president gave a full-throated defense of Israel's decision to launch military strikes on Gaza in return for Palestinian rocket attacks.

But Reason's Mike Riggsnoticed something particularly hilarious/sad about the president's remarks: Obama accidentally satirized himself and American foreign policy with a few unwittingly ironic lines (emphasis mine):

Let's understand what the precipitating event here that's causing the current crisis and that was an ever-escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli territory but in areas that are populated, and there's no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.

'...So we are fully supportive of Israel's right to defend itself from missiles landing on people's homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians.

'...Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory.

Got that? No country on Earth would tolerate missiles raining down from outside lands. As Riggs wrote in his headline: '''...says the man who regularly bombs Pakistan and Yemen.''

Of course, many people will cry ''false equivalency!'' or justify the double standard by noting that our bombings of Pakistan and Yemen are for targeted killing of militants effectively at war with the United States. If that's how you see it, then fair enough. But one could easily say that Yemen would not tolerate missiles raining down on its civilians'... like one particular 16-year-old boy'... from outside lands.

But Obama's comment is mock-worthy solely for the fact that the crux of his contribution to the ''War on Terror'' has been to'... rain down missiles on civilians in Pakistan and Yemen from outside lands. This has also largely been the crux of American neoconservative foreign policy: outside bombings for me, but not for thee.

And if the leaders of those two countries actually stood up and threatened us with war because of our killing of their civilians, could they point to these remarks when we tell them to back off?

Watch the president's remarks below, via NBC News:'' ''>> Follow Andrew Kirell (@AndrewKirell) on Twitter

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Obama Repeatedly Mispronounces Aung San Suu Kyi | The Blog on Obama: White House Dossier

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Mon, 19 Nov 2012 19:07

During his stop in Burma earlier today, President Obama repeatedly mispronounced the name of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate and former political prisoner who has led the struggle for a free and democratic Burma.

From the Associated Press:

As Obama stood next to the world's most recognized democracy icon, he mispronounced her name repeatedly.

Ever gracious, Suu Kyi did not correct her American guest for calling her Aung YAN Suu Kyi multiple times during his statement to reporters after their meeting.

Proper pronunciation for the Nobel laureate's name is Ahng Sahn Soo Chee.

What's more, Obama also botched the name of his official host, Burma's reformist new president, Thein Sein.

As the two addressed the media, Obama called his counterpart ''President Sein,'' an awkward, slightly affectionate reference that would make most Burmese cringe.

Note to presidential advisers: For future rounds of diplomacy, the president of Myanmar is President Thein Sein '' on first and second reference.

Such diplomatic faux pas by George W. Bush would no doubt have sparked peals of outrage and ridicule back home.

The mistake by Obama is even more notable because he tries to please foreign audiences by correctly pronouncing words and names in their languages.

For example, uniquely among U.S. leaders, Obama refers to Pakistan as ''Pahkeestahn,'' which is closer to the way the country's name is pronounced by native speakers.

Here is some video of today's serial mispronunciations:

H/T to Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit.

Related Posts:Tagged as: Aung San Suu Kyi, Obama

Jeremy Scahill "The Petraeus Legacy: A Paramilitary CIA?"

MSNBC Omits Ayotte From Report on Opposition to Rice

Link to Article

Source: MRCTV - News & Politics

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 18:59

MSNBC continued its defense of President Obama and Ambassador Susan Rice on their handling of the Benghazi attack. Interestingly, the network avoided mentioning Senator Kelly Ayotte's role in the opposition to Rice's promotion to Secretary of State. In their defense, that would contradict the assertions of Congressional Democrats that Republicans are sexist and MSNBC's trope that the Republican Party is populated solely by white men.

Wait a minute, they said the criticism of Rice was "angry." Don't they know that's a racial code word?

Soledad O'Brien Tees Up Clyburn to Identify Racial Code In GOP Opposition to Susan Rice

Link to Article

Source: MRCTV - News & Politics

Tue, 20 Nov 2012 18:10

Interviewing Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), CNN's Soledad O'Brien quoted the incoming chair of the caucus who decried the GOP opposition to Susan Rice's candidacy for Secretary of State and said "they pick on women and minorities."

Clyburn replied that the letter signed by 97 House Republicans opposing Rice's nomination used "code words."

BBC News - US diplomat Susan Rice defends Benghazi comments

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Thu, 22 Nov 2012 04:00

21 November 2012Last updated at20:47 ETPlease turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

Rice is tipped to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

The US ambassador to the United Nations has defended comments she made days after a deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Susan Rice said her remarks in a series of TV interviews on 14 September were based on information provided by the US intelligence community.

Ms Rice has faced Republican criticism after saying the attacks stemmed from protests over an anti-Islamic film.

She is tipped to be President Obama's next choice as secretary of state.

Current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not expected to continue in the role for a second four-year term.

Ms Rice, 48, is a long-term ally and supporter of Mr Obama, and he recently defended her in public against a growing tide of criticism from political opponents.

Leading Republicans believe that the Obama administration was not frank with the public over al-Qaeda involvement in the Benghazi attack.

Congressional hearings have sought to piece together what happened, focusing on whether the CIA knew the attack involved al-Qaeda, or whether the state department failed to provide adequate protection for those in Benghazi.

The attack killed four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, on the anniversary of the 11 September strikes on New York and Washington DC.

'Best assessment'The US now accepts that it was a planned terror attack and not a spontaneous demonstration that turned violent.

Continue reading the main storyNone of us will rest, none of us will be satisfied, until we have the answers and the terrorists responsible for this attack are brought to justice''

End QuoteSusan RiceBut in her remarks just days after the violence in Benghazi, Ms Rice appeared to stick by the explanation that protests against a low-budget US film had sparked the violence in Benghazi.

Speaking at the UN on Wednesday, Ms Rice defended her initial position, and described some of the comments about her - including those by Senator John McCain, a leading critic - as "unfounded".

"As a senior US diplomat, I agreed to a White House request to appear on the Sunday shows to talk about the full range of national security issues of the day," she said.

At that time, she added, those concerns were "primarily and particularly the protests that were enveloping and threatening many diplomatic facilities, American diplomatic facilities around the world, and Iran's nuclear program".

"When discussing the attack against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community.

"I made clear that the information was preliminary, and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers," she added.

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Republican Peter King said last week that the CIA knew Benghazi was a terror attack from the outset

"Everyone, particularly the intelligence community, has worked in good faith to provide the best assessment based on the information available."

She said a "definitive accounting" would not be possible until FBI and state department reviews were finished, and described the Benghazi incident as a "heinous terrorist attack".

She praised Mr Stevens, adding: "None of us will rest, none of us will be satisfied until we have the answers, and the terrorists responsible for this attack are brought to justice."

In a post-election news conference a week ago, Mr Obama defended Ms Rice, saying her critics should "go after me" instead of launching "outrageous" attacks on the UN ambassador.

How Much Does Obamacare Cost? Obama Small Biz Chief: 'I Bought Jam For My Friends Last Year!'

Link to Article

Source: MRCTV - News & Politics

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 17:38

On Morning Joe, President Obama's Small Business Administration head, Karen Mills, when asked to state the cost per worker of Obamacare, ducks the question and winds up talking about how last year, she bought blueberry jam at a farmers market in Maine as gifts for friends.

HOT NEWS: Race Card Being Played in Benghazigate Deneen Borelli Michael Meyers Sean Hannity - [VIDEO]

Spirited Exchange Marks Briefing on Israel

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Source: MRCTV - News & Politics

Tue, 20 Nov 2012 08:00

MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them -- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.

MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 325 South Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.

Copyright (C) 2012, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Phil on Gen. Petraeus Affair: I'm Not Surprised | MRCTV

Link to Article

Mon, 19 Nov 2012 19:43

MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them -- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.

MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 325 South Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.

Copyright (C) 2012, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.

CNN's Cooper Retracts Video of Palestinian Faking Injury

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Source: MRCTV - News & Politics

Mon, 19 Nov 2012 14:42

MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them -- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.

MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 325 South Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.

Copyright (C) 2012, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.

UKIP Nigel Farage - The Dead Hand of Bureaucracy (Second-round speech Nov 2012)

Voice of Elmo resigns from Sesame Street - YouTube

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Wed, 21 Nov 2012 18:27

Treasury Secretary Geithner: Lift Debt Limit to Infinity

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Wed, 21 Nov 2012 14:52

(CNSNews.com) - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Friday that Congress should stop placing legal limits on the amount of money the government can borrow and effectively lift the debt limit to infinity.

On Bloomberg TV, ''Political Capital'' host Al Hunt asked Geithner if he believes ''we ought to just eliminate the debt ceiling.''

''Oh, absolutely,'' Geithner said.

''You do? Will you propose that?'' Hunt asked.

''Well, this is something only Congress can solve,'' Geithner said. ''Congress put it on itself. We've had 100 years of experience with it, and I think only once--last summer--did people decide to use it to threaten default on the American credit for the first time in history as a tool for political advantage. And that's not a tenable strategy.''

Hunt then asked: ''Is now the time to eliminate it?''

''It would have been time a long time ago to eliminate it,'' Geithner said. ''The sooner the better.''

Geithner's Treasury Department quietly warned at the end of October that the Treasury would reach current legal limit on the federal government's debt by about the end of the year.

In August 2011, President Barack Obama and Congress agreed to lift the legal debt limit by another $2.4 trillion--allowing the government to borrow up to $16.394 trillion. However, as of the close of business on Thursday, the Treasury had only $154.3 billion of that $2.4 trillion in new borrowing authority left.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said last week that the Senate stands ready to increase the debt limit by another $2.4 trillion. ''If it has to be raised, we'll raise it,'' Reid said.

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BBC News - Risk profiling software tackles the terrorist threat

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Wed, 21 Nov 2012 04:12

20 November 2012Last updated at19:00 ETBy Frank GardnerBBC security correspondentPlease turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

Frank Gardner is shown how SAS's risk profiling software works

A British company has developed a hi-tech software programme it believes can help detect and prevent potentially dangerous passengers and cargo entering the UK using the technique known as "risk profiling".

Executives at SAS Software, based in Buckinghamshire, say the use of such a programme could well have prevented the so-called "underpants bomber" being able to board a flight to Detroit in 2009 with explosives sewn into his underwear.

So, what exactly is risk profiling and can it really reduce the risk of international terrorism?

Risk profiling is a controversial topic. It means identifying a person or group of people who are more likely to act in a certain way than the rest of the population, based on an analysis of their background and past behaviour.

When it comes to airline security, some believe this makes perfect sense.

Why, for example, hold up the queue at immigration to cross question or search the proverbial "little old lady" who is statistically less likely to be a threat than the 24-year old male flying in from a country with security problems?

Others, though, say this smacks of prejudice and would inevitably lead to unacceptable racial or religious profiling - singling out someone because, say, they happen to be Muslim or born in Yemen.

Threat detectionSAS Software, a British-based company with an annual global turnover of £1.7bn and which has absolutely nothing to do with the British Army's Special Air Service, stress that their software is "blind" to such prejudices.

Joanne Taylor, the company's director of public security, says: "The risk profiling utilises lots and lots of different variables. Every piece of data available has nothing to do with racial profiling in its own right or where they happen to have come from.

"It's the same techniques that are used by banks or insurance companies to determine whether you should be given a mortgage; are you a high risk of defaulting?"

The programme works by feeding in data about passengers or cargo, including the Advanced Passenger Information (API) that airlines heading to Britain are obliged to send to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) at "wheels up" - the exact moment the aircraft lifts off from the airport of departure.

Additional information could include a combination of factors, like whether the passenger paid for their ticket in cash, or if they have ever been on a watch list or have recently spent time in a country with a known security problem.

Continue reading the main storyBorder agencies have got vast amounts of information available to them that they are not fully exploiting''

End QuoteIan ManochaSAS SoftwareThe data is then analysed to produce a schematic read-out for immigration officials that shows the risk profile for every single passenger on an incoming flight, seat by seat, high risk to low risk.

'Exported' bordersIt may sound a bit Orwellian - a further example of state surveillance in a country already awash with CCTV cameras and where some senior intelligence officials are pushing to have access to everyone's internet traffic.

So is this sort of risk profiling justified? Do the results justify the means?

Last year, a pilot scheme for similar "intelligence-led border controls" was run, after which Damian Green, the Immigration Minister, concluded: "It is early intelligence, before people get on a plane, that will keep our borders more secure. I want to export our borders so they start at airports around the world."

Ian Manocha, vice president at SAS Software, says the principal works just as much for cargo as it does for passengers.

He says South Korean Customs, which have bought the programme, report a 20% higher detection rate of illegal goods.

"Border agencies have got vast amounts of information available to them that they are not fully exploiting," says Mr Manocha.

"They have to make decisions about freight coming into the country and looking for high risk scenarios.

"Whether it be a bomb threat or potentially a more mundane and routine challenge. For example passage of contraband cargo, drugs or human trafficking.

"All of these challenges are a needle in the haystack problem. And smart technology can really get to find that needle in the haystack that much quicker".

Early warningsSo could such a programme have prevented the printer ink toner-cartridge bombs being placed on a plane from Yemen bound for the US in 2010?

Probably not, admits Mr Manocha, as that plot was stopped not by technology but by a tip-off from a human informant inside Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

But when asked if it would have stopped Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian "underpants bomber", from boarding his flight to Detroit with hidden explosives next to his body in 2009, Peter Snelling, the company's principle technical consultant, says: "I think it's fairly confident to say that yes we would have matched it up."

Risk profiling programmes are definitely not to everyone's liking.

They also carry an inherent danger that innocent individuals could be pulled over and questioned, searched and delayed, although the programmes' proponents would argue they help reduce this risk by feeding in a wide range of known facts.

But whether we are aware of them or not, risk profiling programmes are already in use all over the world and with the volume of air traffic set to expand even further, they look set to become an ever more common part of the invisible scenery around us.

Mars Discovery: NASA touts Curiosity data that points to historic discovery.

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Wed, 21 Nov 2012 03:58

Self portrait of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, which arrived at the Red Planet on Aug. 6, 2012. Andrew Bodrov/360Cities.net/NASA/JPL/Caltech.

Curiosity is living up to its name. The NASA rover currently wheeling itself around Mars has apparently sent back some very interesting data from the Red Planet in the form of a soil sample that shows ... well, something. From the sounds of it, something big. But for now at least, that's all anyone is willing to say.

Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena are keeping their lips sealed for the time being while they run additional tests to make sure the discovery holds up. That, however, hasn't stopped one of the mission's leaders from speculating loudly that it'll be one that rewrites at least some of what we know about the universe.

"This data is gonna be one for the history books," John Grotzinger, the rover mission's principal investigator, told NPR last week for a the buzz-inciting segment that aired today. "It's looking really good."

What we do know is that the data comes from a soil sample analyzed by the rover's Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, an on-board lab known as SAM, so if the data holds up to further testing it appears possible, and perhaps likely, that it is a discovery of an element on Mars previously thought not to exist on the Red Planet.

Of course, the reason that NASA is keeping the potential find (mostly) under wraps is because it may turn out to be nothing but a false alarm, something that's happened before to the mission. NPR explains:

So why doesn't Grotzinger want to share his exciting news? The main reason is caution. Grotzinger and his team were almost stung once before. When SAM analyzed an air sample, it looked like there was methane in it, and at least here on Earth, some methane comes from living organisms. But Grotzinger says they held up announcing the finding because they wanted to be sure they were measuring Martian air, and not air brought along from the rover's launchpad at Cape Canaveral.

"We knew from the very beginning that we had this risk of having brought air from Florida. And we needed to diminish it and then make the measurement again," he says. And when they made the measurement again, the signs of methane disappeared.

But the simple fact Grotzinger is willing to talk so openly (and excitedly) about the possible discovery in light of the past let downs would seem to suggest he has a good deal of confidence that it will hold up to further testing.

No word on exactly how long it will take before we learn more, but Grotzinger told NPR that it will likely take "several weeks" before he and his team are ready to go public. Until then, feel free to take to the comments with your best (or worst) guesses.

Iron Dome: Missile defense system a game changer, Israelis say - CNN.com

Link to Article

Mon, 19 Nov 2012 20:41

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Warning: Graphic image (single)

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

Violence flares between Palestinians, Israelis

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Dutch tradition caught in racist accusations

Link to Article

Source: euronews

Mon, 19 Nov 2012 20:17

Saint Nicolas has arrived in Amsterdam heralding the start of the Dutch celebrations for Christmas. As always since the mid 1800's he was surrounded by his helpers '' Zwarte Pieten '' Black Peter. According to tradition they carry a book full of names of the, ''naughty'' children and also hand out sweets.

The presence of the fictional character in the celebrations has sparked a growing row with accusations of racism led by one activist, Quinsy Gario who last year was arrested for protesting without permission.

''When this tradition was started the general idea was that black people were worth less than those who were white. We are now in 2012 and we have to admit those ideas from those times don't apply to now,'' he said.

Saint Nicolas or Sinterklass as the Dutch call him has been celebrated for many centuries, the Black Peter character was only introduced in 1850 when slavery still existed.

''We are sure that Amsterdam is a very multi-cultural city and you can't really blame us for racism,'' said one person who joined the crowd to welcome Saint Nicolas while another added, ''When I was a teenager, I had the impression the tradition was racist, but now I don't think so. Zwarte Pieten are 'black' because they get dirty climbing down chimneys.''

That's a theory which doesn't wash with many. The number of complaints which the regional Anti-Discrimination Bureau receive about Black Pete has soared from one or two to more than a hundred.

More about:Christmas, Netherlands, Racism, TraditionCopyright (C) 2012 euronews

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